South nation urges residents to keep tires, snails out of river
South Nation Conservation Authority
After recently discovering non-native snail and turtle species in its watershed, South Nation Conservation has issued this timely reminder: Don’t throw stuff in the river. Recently discovered by SNC field staff were Chinese mystery snails in Winchester drains and a red-eared slider turtle in the Payne River near Finch.
Finch - Aug. 12, 2011 - After recently discovering non-native snail and turtle species in its watershed, South Nation Conservation has issued this timely reminder: Don’t throw stuff in the river.
The river in this case is the South Nation which flows from north of Brockville to the Ottawa River near Plantagenet and its tributaries. “Stuff” includes everything from old tires to dead cows to live invasive species.
“We routinely organize cleanups in various parts of the watershed and you’d be amazed at what we find,” said SNC Media Specialist Gord Shaver. “Cars, TVs… you name it. We’re the only area agency that undertakes cleanups of this type. As our resources are limited, we’d appreciate cooperation from the public.”
Of particular concern are live creatures dumped by owners no longer prepared to care for them which can carry diseases to native species while competing for food and habitat.
Recently discovered by SNC field staff were Chinese mystery snails in Winchester drains and a red-eared slider turtle in the Payne River near Finch.
Also called rice snails and Asian apple snails, the more commonly known mystery snails grow very large and can be present in high densities, clogging water pipes and inhibiting flow. They compete with native snails for food and space.
The infected area stretches from the Gypsy Road culvert south of Winchester to the culvert on County Road 3 north of the village; the highest snail density is within the village itself.
“The most likely explanation is that someone dumped unwanted aquarium pets into the drain, a practice we definitely want to discourage,” said SNC staffer Janet Greenhorn, adding that the invasive snails are now being removed.
“We certainly won’t be able to get all of the snails but we’re hoping to at least reduce the population and slow their spread.”
As for the red-eared slider found in the Payne, staff member Karen Paquette said it weighed eight pounds and was 23.5 cm in length. The species isn’t native to Canada, originating from West Virginia to New Mexico and south to the Gulf of Mexico.
With a distinctive reddish patch behind each eye, sliders are sold in pet stores as babies. As they grow larger and become harder to care for, pet owners have been known to release them into the wild; those that survive and thrive compete directly with eight native Ontario turtle species, seven of which are at risk. Sliders can lay up to five clutches of eggs per season while native turtles lay a maximum of one clutch.
“If you have a red-eared slider you can no longer care for, try to find a zoo or school which might be interested in adopting it,” Paquette encouraged. “Never release a pet turtle into the wild.”
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