Prepared by the Ontario Wood Turtle Recovery Team

The Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario (COSSARO) has designated the Wood Turtle (Glyptemys insculpta) as endangered in Ontario, and the species is listed in regulation as endangered on the Species at Risk in Ontario List. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) lists the species as threatened. The Wood Turtle is declining across much of its range and often occurs in small, disjunct populations. Given the long life history common to many turtles, any chronic increase in adult mortality can lead to a population decline. Significant threats include habitat loss, road mortality and collecting for the pet trade.

The goals of this recovery strategy are to halt the decline of Wood Turtle populations in Ontario, and to restore and maintain viable self-sustaining populations throughout the current range.

The recovery strategy addresses four primary objectives:

  • Maintain the present range and distribution of Wood Turtles in Ontario
  • Achieve and maintain minimum viable population levels of Wood Turtles throughout their current range in Ontario
  • Reduce Wood Turtle mortality and human-related threats to the species
  • Reduce illegal collection of Wood Turtles

Priority actions that are recommended to address these objectives include continuing to clarify the distribution, significant habitats and abundance of Wood Turtles in Ontario; protecting significant habitats that have been identified; continuing to manage the most vulnerable populations; and reducing the threat of illegal collection.

It is recommended that a Wood Turtle habitat regulation prescribe riverine corridors, hibernation sites, nesting sites and upland habitat adjacent to the riverine corridor in areas where Wood Turtles are found, known to occur or known to have occurred. A mapping methodology is recommended to identify and quantify the spatial extent of this habitat on a regional or local scale.