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The Ayr News

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~ Published by the Schmidt family since 1913 ~ North Dumfries • Blandford-Blenheim • Brant • East Zorra-Tavistock • Wilmot

Vol. 121 — No. 24


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Snapping turtle eggs are rescued from Ayr softball diamond

By Irene Schmidt-Adeney The rescue of 42 Snapping turtle eggs from an Ayr ball diamond was a home run for rare Conservation Technician Alissa Fraser. Rescuing unhatched Snapping turtle eggs is nothing new for Fraser – she has saved 13 nests so far this year. “The fresher they are, the better,” said Fraser. “There is less risk of detaching the embryo.” On June 3, rare Charitable Research Reserve dispatched Fraser after being alerted to the nest at the small ball diamond in Victoria Park. This area is a common nesting ground for Snapping turtles, but a nest dug into the ball diamond is unusual. Under the watchful eye of the mother snapper and a group of curious bystanders, the rescue operation began. Fraser carefully removed 42 newly-laid eggs from a nesting hole dug into the ball diamond gravel. Shortly after the removal, Fraser noticed the mother tottling away. Snapping turtles are not hands-on parents. “She would dig a hole, lay the eggs, and wish them luck,” said Fraser, not at all surprised at the behaviour. When left in the wild, Fraser says they have a one in 100 chance of survival. The longer time that a nest is unattended, the greater chance that the eggs will be destroyed. “The abandoned eggs are a tasty meal for all kinds of predators,” said Fraser. “They are a good meal for raccoons, skunks, coyotes, and insects also eat them. Once they hatch, they are picked up by the same mammals. If they make it to the water, they can be eaten by frogs, fish, herons, or other turtles.” “If I can collect it [the nest], most of them will live.” It takes 18 to 20 years for a Snapping turtle to reach sexual maturity and they can live for almost 50 years. They can grow to be up to 36 centimetres (15 inches) and weigh up to 16 kilograms (35 pounds). Adult Snapping turtles have few natural predators and human intervention is mostly likely how a Snapping turtle will die during this time. “By killing off the long-life adults, we are severely

Alissa Fraser with the eggs rescued from Sage Field.

impacting the ability for them to reproduce,” said Fraser. The Snapping turtle eggs have a safe haven at rare, tucked gently into a soft blanket of vermiculite and in a climate-controlled incubator. Rare has two incubators used to hatch turtle eggs that were purchased with private donations and grants. After just a few days, white eggs about the size of a toonie, have a slightly discoloured protrusion indicating that they are developing. Some of the eggs will not develop because they were not fertilized. Fraser predicts that a few dozen Snapping turtles that were rescued from the ball diamond will be released to the wild sometime in August. They are monitored regularly by Fraser and anytime after 80 days, they will hatch. They can survive for three days without food or water, before being released into a water source, in a natural setting. Most eggs are laid from May until the beginning of July, so that the gestation period is reached before October, when the water starts to get cold. Fraser has a good track record. Last year, she released 622 Snapping turtles into the wild. “Last year, I collected 25 Snapping turtle nests and one painted turtle nest,” said Fraser. Sadly, the painted turtle was crushed on a roadway after laying her eggs a short distance away. Fraser has a permit from the Ministry of Natural Resources to raise eggs from four turtle species – Blanding’s, Midland Painted, Snapping, and Northern Map. All but Northern Map turtles are found in this area. All four species are protected by the provincial government to varying degrees. In addition, The Blanding and Snapping turtle are also protected under federal regulations. Fraser has been at rare since August 2016. She has an Honours Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto and a diploma in Eco System Management from Sir Sanford Fleming College in Lindsay. At rare, she is involved with trail maintenance, natural plant propagation, and land management. See additional photos on page 12.

Northumberland Street road closure will be north of Gibson Street Road closures will begin this week on Northumberland Street in downtown Ayr for the installation of storm sewers. “From the south side of Inglis Street to Gibson Street on or about June 11th,” said WalterFedy spokesperson Josh Eldridge. “Please note, the Contractor plans to be starting just north of Gibson and moving northerly along Northumberland to the south side of Inglis Street.” In addition to the storm sewers, Bell Canada and Rogers will continue work on the relocation of telephone poles along Northumberland Street and In-

glis Street. Temporary parking passes will continue to be distributed to Swan Street residences affected by construction. New watermain installation on Swan Street from Stanley Street to Burnside Drive should be completed by next week. Following this completion, watermain installation will begin along Swan Street between Burnside Drive to Hilltop Drive. The installation in this section will take several weeks. “Note that the existing watermain generally lies along the east side of Swan Street under the road asphalt,” said Eldridge. “The contractor is to en-

sure safe passage of all pedestrians and students.” “Placement of the fused watermain pipe requires that the entire length of pipe (upwards of 150m of length) will be placed along the side of the road adjacent to the access pits and will interfere with access to driveways for the day of the installation,” added Eldridge. Eldridge said that the work schedule can be affected by inclement weather and other circumstances. For more information contact WalterFedy site inspector Josh Eldridge at 226-808-4678.

INSIDE the NEWS... • Election 2 • Drama 3 • Ayring the 4 • 6 • 12 • 14 • Business 16 • 19

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