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Report: Western Painted Turtle Recovery in Lower Mainland Watersheds -Year 2 COA-F21-W-3295

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The goal of this project is to recover 10 populations of British Columbias only remaining native freshwater turtle species; the Pacific Coast population of Western Painted Turtle that is federally endangered and provincially red-listed, in Lower Mainland Watersheds.

Author:  Aimee Mitchell, Kym Welstead, Vanessa Kilburn, Deanna MacTavish

Old Reference Number:  COA-F21-W-3295

Old Reference System:  FWCP - Fish Wildlife Compensation Program Coastal

Date Published:  Apr 2021

Report ID:  59144

Audience:  Government and Public

This project is led by WPT South Coast Recovery Group; a partnership between the Coastal Painted Turtle Project (CPTP) (lead by Aimee Mitchell), Wildlife Preservation Canada (WPC) (lead by Andrea Gielens who operates head-starting at the Vancouver Zoo) and the Ministry of FoThis will be accomplished by increasing the recruitment through releasing head-started turtles (while maintaining the genetic distinctiveness of BC), monitoring the populations recovery, and providing and monitoring effectiveness of essential habitat such as basking features, overwintering and nesting habitat (as per the recovery plans recommendations). rests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Regional Development (MFLNRORD) (lead by Kym Welstead Provincial WPT Recovery Team chair and operator of the head-stating facility in North Vancouver). The CPTP has already begun to address immediate threats that may result in direct mortality through measures such as nests predator exclosures, signage, site rehabilitation, and fencing as well as restoring habitat and long-term productivity at the currently known occupied sites in these watersheds (Coquitlam, Alouette and Stave); including Colony Farm, Minnekhada Regional Park, Jerry Sulina Municipal Park and Silvermere Lake. Much of this work was also previously sponsored by FWCP in various multi-species at risk projects in all three watersheds since 2011. However, follow-up monitoring through population assessments (mark-recapture as well as basking and nesting surveys) have had limited funding from other project supporters. Assessing the functioning of past and planned restoration activities as well as survival and health of head-started individuals is essential in order to effectively apply adaptive management and ensure long-term success of the recovery efforts. The project objectives are to support and conduct all Western Painted Turtle conservation and recovery activities highlighted in the Provincial Recovery Plan and Federal Recovery Strategy in the Coquitlam, Alouette and Stave watersheds with a focus on currently occupied and augmented sites. This proposed project with FWCP will further address the threats by securing long-term matched funding for the head-starting program as well as for post-release and post-restoration monitoring. Activities include: Head-starting support (staff, food and equipment) both at the Vancouver Zoo (Andrea Gielens) and at MFLNRORD facility in North Vancouver (Kym Welstead). The field component includes; nesting monitoring, habitat restoration, nesting beach maintenance and population monitoring (trapping) to track success of head-started turtles that are released as well as tracking overall population health. In summary, the main objective is to restore, maintain and monitor turtle populations and survival habitat throughout these three Lower Mainland FWCP watersheds. This project is envisioned as a 5-year program (began April 2019), with focus on currently occupied and augmented sites in the watersheds to restore, maintain and monitor Western Painted Turtle populations. These objectives align with several Priority Actions as outlined in the three Watershed Action Plans (Coquitlam-COQ, Alouette-ALU and Stave-SFN); including: Priority 1 - 1) Action 4: Species and Habitat-based Actions for Fish and Wildlife (ALL) Implement high priority habitat and/or species-based actions, 2) Action 8: Monitoring and Evaluation (ALU and SFN) Assess success of past habitat-based actions supported by FWCP, 3) Action 17, 20, and 19: Habitat-based actions - Wildlife Species at Risk (COQ, ALU and SFN, respective actions) Implement priority species and habitat-related conservation actions in recent Recovery Strategies, and Priority 2 4) Action 23 and 26: Habitat-based actions-Wildlife (COQ and ALU, respective actions) Implement wetland and riparian restoration projects that are identified as high priorities through inventory, mapping and assessment.

Report Type
  Fish and Aquatic Habitat Information
  Amphibians & Reptiles - Painted Turtle: Chrysemys picta
  Region - Lower Mainland
  Water Information - Watershed Assessment Studies

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