In July 2017, more than 200 community members gathered at a local wetland to release 26 baby snapping turtles, which had been rescued, incubated, hatched and raised at the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre.

Twenty-five volunteers were on hand to make sure the event ran smoothly, loading cars, setting up tables, walking through the crowds with the hatchlings, making sure that everyone had a chance to meet the baby turtles up close before they were released back to the wild.

Fifteen enthusiastic participants were selected by draw to release a baby snapping turtle – a once in a lifetime experience! Community members at the event had opportunities to interact with a non-releasable snapping turtle, learning about turtles’ biological characteristics, threats to turtle populations, and the important role turtles play in our local watershed. Participants also walked away with “I brake for turtles” bumper stickers along with tips on what to do when a turtle is encountered on the road.

The event made a significant impact, engaging community members of all ages and backgrounds in direct conservation and building up the knowledge and tools our community needs to become active stewards of local turtles and wetlands.