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Turtle rescue group founder says government blocking efforts to help at-risk species
One of the founders of a volunteer turtle rescue group in Nova Scotia says the government is blocking his efforts to help a species at risk -- the snapping turtle.
The man behind what's become known as the Turtle Patrol says his hands are now tied.
Paul Turbitt and his group have installed nest protector works in the past to keep predators from eating snapping turtle eggs.
However, the department of lands and forestry told him he couldn't do it any more- without the proper permits.
So, he applied.
"I personally have written four permit requests to the manager of wildlife," said Turbitt.
He spent months filling out the necessary information and consulting experts, only to have three of his four applications denied.
"If assistance is offered to an organization that is struggling for resources and struggling for funding, then they should be accepting that assistance," Turbitt says.
The only permit he did receive only allows him to help a snapping turtle cross the road. Even though he submitted an application to use nest protectors – twice -- he was shut down.
Turbitt says the department told him there wasn't enough data available about the effectiveness of turtle nest protectors, so he asked for a permit to do nest surveys. He says that was denied too.
"Generally speaking, hands-off wildlife is usually the right thing to do," said Bob Petrie,director of wildlife with the Nova Scotia Department of Lands and Forestry.
The province's head of wildlife wouldn't address Turbitt's specific case but says the department welcomes help from conservationists -- to a point.
"It's really important to make sure it's informed by the evidence, informed by experts, so that the actions taken have the right outcome," Petrie said.
Navigating the bureaucracy is familiar territory for long-time wildlife rehabilitationist Hope Swinimer.
"So much has changed just in the last couple of years," said Swinimer.
There was a time when not all turtles in Nova Scotia were on the species at risk list. Now, they are.
For her, that's a lot more paperwork.
"You wanna do everything right, so sometimes it does get a little confusing for us," said Swinimer.
Lands and Forestry says if Nova Scotians want to help, they can call the department to report nests or turtles at risk.
Turbitt says he knows of at least one snapping turtle site that lost 48 nests because he couldn't protect any.
That led to a loss of dozens of snapping turtles for a vulnerable species.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Heidi Petracek.