Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Cleveland Metroparks released 10 Blanding's turtles today into the marshlands of Cleveland Metroparks Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation (OECR). This release, the third since 2001, is part of an ongoing project between the two organizations to ensure the sustainability of this extremely rare turtle species.
Blanding's turtles are considered "special interest" by the State of Ohio, which means that the animal is not endangered, but may soon become so if conservation measures are not taken. Once native to most of the Lake Erie coastline, these turtles are extremely rare because of destruction of their marshland habitat. These medium-sized turtles with bright yellow necks and domed shells are found in only four counties in Ohio, as well as throughout the Great Lakes region and as far as Nova Scotia.
In 1999, Cleveland Metroparks and Zoo staff discovered a population of individual Blanding's turtles in the Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation. This was the first documented sighting in Cleveland Metroparks. These original turtles were fitted with radio transmitters, and their movements and behavior were recorded. One of the females laid eggs. After those eggs hatched, some of the baby turtles were brought to the Zoo to be raised. Those hatchlings received "head start" care and are now ready for life at OECR.
By continuing to track the turtles through the use of radio transmitters, Cleveland Metroparks and the Zoo hope to gather important data about the turtles that were cared for at the Zoo. They will compare the turtles' survival rates and examine their environment and predators.
The Zoo and the Cleveland Metroparks collaborate with several partners in the Blanding's turtle project, including: Ohio Coastal Management Program (ODNR); Ohio Division of Wildlife; Ohio Division of Natural Areas and Preserves; Cuyahoga Valley National Park; and Winous Point Marsh Conservancy.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo . . . Cleveland's Natural Wonder
(For more information contact Kavita Sherman at 216.635.3310 or Sue Allen 216.635.3338)