Blanding’s turtle wins the race against wind turbine farm

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The endangered Blanding’s turtle has come out ahead in its race to protect the species and its habitat in Prince Edward County.

The Ontario Environmental Review Tribunal ruled on Monday that the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change permit related to proposed industrial wind turbines on the Ostrander Point crown lands should be revoked. (Read more about Ontario’s Blanding’s Turtles here.)

“This is a great outcome for everyone involved and for the environment” said Myrna Wood of the Prince Edward County Field Naturalists, the appellant. “It’s taken some time, but with this result the effort has clearly been worthwhile” said Eric Gillespie, legal counsel.

Eric Gillespie, Environmental lawyer for the Alliance to Protect Prince Edward County (APPEC) said many endangered Blanding’s turtles have been spotted in the area – out of hibernation early due to the mild winter. In February, the ERT had ruled the turbines would cause serious and irreversible harm to the Little Brown Bat and the Blanding’s Turtle.

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White Pines Wind Inc. was to to install and operate a facility of 27 turbines on the pristine south shore of what locals call the County.

Blanding’s turtle, which reaches about 10″ long, can live to 80 years or more, The turtle’s most distinctive feature is its lemon-yellow throat and chin. Blanding’s turtles are highly aquatic, agile swimmers capable of capturing live fish.

A Blanding’s turtle’s lower shell, known as  the plastron,  is hinged and can be folded up to seal off the head. Turtles mate in April and May and the females often wander far from water to dig nests in dry soil, in which they deposit an average of eight eggs. Temperature decides the sex of the turtles. Eggs warmed to 72 to 82 degrees produce females; those that cross into the higher temperature ranges result in males. The hatchlings then wait for around 14 years to mature and start their own sexual activities.

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American physician William Blanding was the first to find this beautiful turtle while exploring the Fox River in Illinois in 1830. His specimen, now bottled, sits in the collections of the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences.

The species was not named for eight years. In 1838 herpetologist John Holbrook published a description, which said: “… first observed by Dr. William Blanding of Philadelphia, an accurate naturalist, whose name I have given this species.”

Blanding’s turtle has its distribution along the Great Lakes, but populations are relatively few and scattered. The turtle is listed as endangered or threatened in most states and Canadian provinces in which it occurs. CINEWS/CNW

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