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Shuswap community plans second celebration of beloved blue-listed turtles

Arts, crafts, live music, food, vendors and more in store at White Lake Turtle Festival

White Lake residents are once again preparing to celebrate and raise awareness around resident Western painted turtles.

Each spring, White Lake Residents Association (WLRA) members and others endeavour to ensure hatchling turtles are given safe passage as they make their way across local roads towards the lake.

To help raise public awareness around the local, blue-listed species, last April the WLRA hosted its first White Lake Turtle Festival, a community event complete with education, entertainment, crafts, vendors, food and more.

With support from sponsor the Shuswap Community Foundation and the Margaret Haney Fund, the festival returns for its second year on Saturday, April 13, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the White Lake Community Hall.

“Last year was a huge success, with over 250 visitors attending, making this Festival a wonderful celebration and an opportunity for all of us to become better caretakers for our little friends,” said WRLA spokesperson Kathleen Ludwig in a media release. “We learned a lot about turtles and had enormous fun with activities, great food, live music and an informative slide presentation by WildBC Educator, Peter Ballin.

“This festival is our way to bring awareness to the need to care for our turtles at White Lake. Western painted turtles are at risk, mainly due to predators and to being killed on the roads. The baby hatchlings are very small, about the size of a toonie, so it is hard to see them if you are driving fast.”

The painted turtle is on British Columbia’s blue list of species at risk. Blue-listed species of special concern have characteristics that make them particularly sensitive or vulnerable to human activities or natural events.

The festival’s motto is “Learn. Enjoy. Protect.” Through the festival and other efforts, the WLRA is working to share this motto so drivers know to slow down when turtles are moving across local roads.

“Baby hatchlings are most on the move toward the waterways in April-June and again in August-September,” said Ludwig. “Adult turtles move mostly in July. If you see a turtle, stop and allow it to cross the road. It is very distressing to see broken dead turtles.”

Ludwig noted a record is being kept of turtles in the area, including “how many live or dead turtles we find on our roads.”

“For 2023, we recorded 83 live adults, 37 hatchlings dead on the road and 30 live hatchlings,” said Ludwig. “We ask everyone to please report any sightings to, as this helps us know if our protection efforts are working.”

Ludwig and the WLRA invite the public to attend this year’s White Lake Turtle Festival, which will include crafts and games, market vendors, food trucks, live music, a new turtle mascot (and contest to name the mascot), turtle patrol shirts and more.

“Join us to celebrate our turtles and discover what you can do to help them thrive!” said Ludwig.

Read more: Beloved blue-listed Shuswap resident to be celebrated at White Lake Turtle Festival

Read more: Snapshot: Painted turtle painters

Lachlan Labere

About the Author: Lachlan Labere

Editor of the Salmon Arm Observer, Shuswap Market, and Eagle Valley News. I'm always looking for new and exciting ways to keep our readers informed and engaged.
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