News & Notes: Autumn 2018

Send Your Observations to the Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas

Ontario Nature’s Reptile and Amphibian Atlas program is interested in all of your sightings – past or current, common species or species at risk. Observations can be submitted online, or on printableforms that can be mailed in. For each observation, you will be asked for contact information, the species and how you identified it (with a photo whenever possible), site description, and date. You can register with the atlas, receiving an atlas ID number
and regular communications.

For more information or to send in observations, visit, or write to

You can also submit turtle and frog observations via Ontario Turtle Tally and FrogWatch Ontario (see, part of the Toronto Zoo’s Adopt-A-Pond program. These data are shared among different programs.

UTRCA Reports a Tough Year for Spiny Softshell Turtles

The Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA) reported in August that 2018 has been a difficult stretch for the endangered Spiny Softshell Turtle. After releasing 6000 hatchlings in August 2017, only half that number will be released this year.

Scott Gillingwater, Species at Risk Biologist with UTRCA, observed “There are fewer hatchlings this year, possibly due to the very cool weather in April and May, or the major flooding that occurred in late winter. Climate change will continue to make our work more difficult, with extreme heat and strong storm events leading to flooding which causes turtle eggs to fail.” Loss of habitat, collection for the pet and food trade, and being caught on fish hooks
are also threats to this provincially and federally endangered species. Since only a small percentage of hatchling turtles reach adulthood, it’s critical for biologists to protect the eggs and release as many hatchlings as possible back into the river.

Since UTRCA began protecting eggs in the 1990s, the local Spiny Softshell Turtle population has shown increases in the number of turtles of all age classes and their range along the Thames River. 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of the UTRCA Spiny Softshell Turtle recovery project. Scott Gillingwater has been involved since the beginning and continues to inspire people with his passion for conservation and species at risk. Nature London has supported the
recovery project over many years through donations and grants obtained in conjunction with the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Ontario Nature “Earth Watch” Updates

Visit to read the latest edition of Ontario Nature’s publication, ON nature. The Earth Watch section provides updates on several environmental issues and campaigns, including the legal fight against the use of neonics undertaken by Ontario Nature and several partners. Another article highlights the concern that all eight of Ontario’s turtle species are now at risk. The Fall 2018 ON nature includes a feature article on the effect of human-generated noise on wildlife. Nature London is affiliated with Ontario Nature and members may wish to consider adding this publication to their seasonal reading list.