FEBRUARY 21 2012 20:25h

Turtles in Canada facing triple threat

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OTTAWA, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Snapping turtles in Ontario, Canada, are threatened by hunters, road kill and toxins, researchers said Tuesday in calling for an end to hunting the animals.

The species that has been around for 40 million years is being pushed to the edge of extinction, a report issued Tuesday by the David Suzuki Foundation, Ontario Nature and the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Center said.

The report calls for the end of a controversial provincial policy that allows snapping turtles to be hunted despite being listed as a species at risk.

The policy allows anyone with a provincial game or fishing license to "bag" up to two snapping turtles a day.

"This report demonstrates that snapping turtles cannot withstand such high mortality rates," Anne Bell, director of conservation and education with Ontario Nature, said.

"It is our hope that the province will act on our recommendation to ban the hunt -- one simple step towards protecting this amazing animal."

The report also identifies eight hot spots where thousands of turtles are being run over and killed by cars each year.

"Snapping turtles face an uncertain future in Ontario because we have paved over 70 percent of southern Ontario's wetlands and created corridors of death with our roads and highways," Sue Carstairs at the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Center said.