Skip to content

B.C. painted turtle in hospital after run-in with vehicle in Williams Lake

Scout Island Nature Centre staff hoping turtle can recuperate

A western painted turtle is being treated at the Animal Care Hospital in Williams Lake after being run over and left for dead on the causeway into Scout Island Nature Centre on Wednesday, May 15.

“The injured turtle is very sad for all of us,” said Martin Kruus, education coordinator at Scout Island Thursday.

Margret Onneken, who used to run the preschool at Scout Island, was the first person to notice the injured turtle and brought it to staff’s attention immediately, he said.

“She thought it would somehow recover if it had some care and was almost certain if it was left in the wild it would be predated or there would be too much bacteria or other issues like that in the wounds.”

Describing the injuries, Kruus explained it looked like the bottom of the turtle’s shell had been snapped on both sides by someone running over it.

Onneken was also concerned because there was another turtle laying beside it on the roadway that would not move, he added.

“She was worried at first that both of them had been potentially impacted by the collision.”

When she went back to investigate, and inspected the second turtle carefully, she decided maybe it was a partner that did not want to leave the side of its mate.

“So, she placed it in the water on the lake side of the causeway and it swam away vigorously so she felt like it had a good chance to survive and may not have been injured.”

Veterinarian Dr. Don Deitrick of the Animal Care Hospital said they are making a game plan for the injured turtle.

“We have been talking to the Turtle Trauma Centre in Ontario for some tips and stabilizing the turtle as best we can,” he said Thursday afternoon.

He said it was difficult to determine the extent of the injuries, but has been told by staff at the [Kawartha] Turtle Trauma Centre that it is difficult to squish a turtle to death.

The turtle has been in good spirits from what he can tell, he said, and confirmed this is the first time he has ever dealth with a turtle in his veterinary career.

Kruus said to date there have been six to 12 western painted turtles sunning themselves on logs, which is usual at this time of year.

There have also been baby turtles, smaller than the palm of the hand that were being eaten last year by what staff suspects is a mink.

“We were discovering one a week so we know they have a precarious life,” Kruus said.

Encouraging the public to be sensitive to the local population of painted turtles, Kruus said everyone at Scout Island wants them to thrive as best as possible.

Painted turtles are the only native freshwater turtle in B.C. They are an at-risk species that require wetlands, ponds, and marshes to forage yet dry, upland areas with sandy soil for nesting, which is what Scout Island offers.

Signs posted before and on the causeway are there to remind the public to drive with caution and to watch for turtles.

In a previous interview, Sue Hemphill, previous executive director, said Williams Lake has the most northern population of western painted turtles.

READ MORE: VIDEO: Painted turtles a show-stopper at Scout Island in Williams Lake

Don’t miss out on reading the latest local, provincial and national news offered at the Williams Lake Tribune. Sign up for our free newsletter here.

Monica Lamb-Yorski

About the Author: Monica Lamb-Yorski

A B.C. gal, I was born in Alert Bay, raised in Nelson, graduated from the University of Winnipeg, and wrote my first-ever article for the Prince Rupert Daily News.
Read more