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Turtlefest will be celebrated at Scales Nature Park this weekend

Event is a celebration of turtle conservation efforts and doubles as launch of Turtle Guardians program
2018-06-12 midland painted turtle
This midland painted turtle was spotted recently off of Bass Lake Sideroad in Oro-Medonte. It has been deemed a species at risk by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Nathan Taylor/OrilliaMatters

ORO-MEDONTE - Scales Nature Park, an education and conservation facility focused on Canadian reptiles and amphibians, is celebrating its 10th season by hosting TurtleFest on Friday, Aug. 23 from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Saturday, Aug. 24 from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.

TurtleFest will be a celebration of turtle conservation efforts in the region, including the Saving Turtles at Risk Today (START) Project, and the launch of the Turtle Guardians program.

 Admission is free with a donation to turtle conservation.

Activities will include public releases of turtle hatchlings from the START project's egg incubation program to a nearby wetland, games and crafts for kids at the Reptile Camp tent, live music, a food tent and bake sale, research project and community partner displays and lots more.

"The START project has really grown thanks to the tremendous support of our funders and the community of Simcoe-Muskoka," says Jeff Hathaway, founder of Scales Nature Park and director of the START Project.

"We've had tremendous success at reducing turtle road mortality, identifying unknown reptile populations, protecting habitat, and boosting recruitment through our egg incubation program," said Hathaway. 

"This year, we've incubated over 11,000 turtle eggs recovered from roadsides and other precarious locations where protective cages could not be placed. We hope people will come out to see some of the baby turtles be released into the wild!"

START is funded in part by the Rogers Foundation and the Canadian Wildlife Federation as part of its Freshwater Turtle program. To learn more, visit

Turtle Guardians ( has recently revamped its efforts across the southern edge of the Canadian shield, the area known as "The Land Between", which contains about 1/3 of Ontario's remaining turtle populations. Kids (and adults) can join this program, funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, and "level up" as they learn to identify turtle species, monitor populations and participate in Turtle Walks.

Leora Berman, creator of the project, explains "it's a tremendous opportunity to engage people across a critical landscape for turtles. Scales Nature Park is a key partner and supporter!"

During TurtleFest, turtle technicians will be on hand to show how to help turtles cross the road safely, demonstrate turtle tracking techniques, explain volunteer opportunities and when to contact the START project turtle hotline.

If you spot a “rare, nesting, or injured/dead” turtle in Simcoe-Muskoka, you can call or text the turtle hotline at 705-955-4284 to help our conservation efforts.  

Be sure to come out to Scales Nature Park on Aug. 23 or 24 to see baby turtles, learn more about turtle conservation, and have a lot of fun! It's just off Highway 11 at Oro-Medonte Line 15 South.

For more information about Scales Nature Park, visit