Reptile and Amphibian Stewardship
Protecting Ontario’s biodiversity is not the sole responsibility of the government, conservation organizations or protected areas, and endangered species legislation alone is not enough to prevent the ongoing decline of reptiles and amphibians. Society and individuals have an important role to play, whether that is supporting stronger endangered species legislation and policy, protecting habitat through private land stewardship, participating in local conservation work or just helping to spread the word. There are several easy ways for everyone to make a difference and become involved in reptile and amphibian conservation:
- Become a steward and protect or create reptile and amphibian habitat on your property.
- Whenever possible, avoid removing trees and shrubs or cutting tall grass, all of which provide important habitat for frogs, snakes and many other animals.
- Refrain from mowing fields and lawns that are not being used, and allow them to return to a natural state. Mowed lawns are hospitable to very few wildlife species.
- Preserve natural wetlands, creeks and shoreline areas, as these provide critically important habitat for most amphibian and turtle species.
- Leave fallen wood and other debris on the forest floor. These materials provide important habitat for salamanders and other animals.
- Create or maintain rock piles, which provide habitat for snakes. For more information on creating a snake hibernaculum, contact John Urquhart at email@example.com.
- Reduce road mortality by helping reptiles and amphibians cross the road when it is safe to do so. Animals should always be moved in the direction in which they are facing, no matter what the habitat looks like. Nesting turtles should never be moved.
- Report any observations of reptiles or amphibians to the Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas. This citizen science program, and others like it, is collecting information that is urgently needed to properly manage and protect Ontario’s biodiversity.
- Learn about the species that are present in your area, and be a steward for those populations. Be sure to comment on any proposed developments that might affect those populations, since developers, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) biologists and project consultants often are not aware of many of the species present in proposed development areas.
- Discourage activities in your community that are detrimental to reptile and amphibian populations, such as wetland destruction, excessive use of pesticides and off-trail ATV use.
- Never remove native reptiles or amphibians from the wild. It is illegal to remove most species from the wild, and doing so contributes to population declines.
- Report any possible signs of poaching to your local OMNR or a conservation officer by calling 1-877-TIPS-MNR (1-877-847-7667). Lines attached to sticks that have been left along a shoreline are a sign of turtle poaching. It is illegal to possess most species of reptiles and amphibians in Ontario, and anyone in possession of them may have collected them illegally.
- Educate other people about the decline of reptiles and amphibians, the needless persecution of snakes and how to become involved in reptile and amphibian stewardship and conservation. Education about these issues is crucial to protecting Ontario’s reptiles and amphibians, and every person can make a difference!