Two injured turtles were airlifted 250 miles across the large Canadian province of Ontario after a snapping turtle was hit by a vehicle in a May 10 hit-and-run road accident. When rescue pilot Rick Woodall accepted the assignment to volunteer the 60-minute flight to deliver a snapping turtle with severe facial injuries to the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre in Peterborough, he was also asked to bring along a Blanding's turtle.
Woodall airlifted the turtles from Sarnia to Peterborough in a homemade two-seater Van's RV-9 plane. He told CBC Canada, "They were quiet and enjoyed the flight. It was for a purpose and it was a fun purpose."
As a volunteer for Pilots N Paws, Rick Woodall thought he would be airlifting dogs. But his first rescue turned out to be the two injured turtles.
The Blanding's turtle, a species considered endangered in most of North America, responded quickly to treatment and is scheduled for release this weekend.
The snapping turtle, dubbed Porter by the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre staff, had multiple facial injuries and jaw fractures as a result of the car accident. He had first received treatment at nearby Heaven's Wildlife Rescue near Sarnia, but the severity of his injuries demanded the more specialized experience of the KTTC team.
Dr. Sue Carstairs reported that she couldn't use the normal wiring technique to rebuild his jaw while it healed, but she was able to use surgical tape. Porter is already active and alert.
However, he has a long road to recovery ahead of him, and the injured turtle is expected to be living at the rescue through the summer and perhaps into the autumn months as well.
As turtles emerge from hibernation and start crossing the road in search of mates, the slow-moving animals are at high risk for being involved in car accidents. Last year, KTTC helped 647 turtle patients, but the nonprofit told The Windsor Star they're on track to double that number this year.
Check out that photograph of an Ontario snapping turtle, and think twice about whether or not you really want to hit that thing. Keep your eyes open out there, people.
Learn more about Ontario's Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre right here:
There's a new awareness of the seven endangered species of turtles demanding help in Ontario as a result of the injured turtle airlift.
[Porter's post-surgery photo courtesy Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre via Facebook]
[typical snapping turtle photographed in Ontario courtesy Ontley via Wikimedia Commons]