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West Kelowna veterinarian asking motorists to slow down through turtle crossing

Turtle crossing on a highway

An Okanagan veterinarian is asking motorists to be careful when driving through a turtle crossing in West Kelowna.

According to Dr. Moshe Oz of Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital, several turtles have been injured while trying to cross Westlake Road as they venture from one pond to another pond.

Normally, the turtles can traverse back and forth through a culvert beneath the road, but, for whatever reason, the turtles are choosing to cross the road instead of taking the culvert.

Oz said some female turtles are crossing the road to lay their eggs in the other pond.

“They cannot cross underneath, so they have to use the road,” said Oz. “And that road is quite busy.”

Oz said the issue has been going on for a couple of years, and that he’s seen around two dozen dead turtles every year.

“Once in a while, we get an injured one and we try to help,” said Oz. “It’s very hard to treat because once the shell is broken, we try to mend it with glue or a plate.

“But it’s quite costly and it’s not easy to do. Mostly, we are not successful because they’re in bad shape.”

Recently, Oz said one female turtle came into the clinic in rough shape. The turtle was rescued, though, and is now on the mend.

“If we decrease (the female) numbers, then we won’t have new generations,” said Oz.

The stretch of road features a turtle crossing sign, along with a speed indicator.

The City of West Kelowna says the culvert does get flooded with debris on occasion, but that it’s also visited by predators, such as coyotes.

The city said mitigation work will be done this summer to encourage the turtles to take a different path instead of crossing the road.

In the meantime, the city is encouraging motorists to slow down through the area.

Oz said at least five have been killed this year.

“It’s wildlife. It’s important to speak up and try to educate all of us in the neighbourhood,” said Oz. “Slow down. There are turtles that depend on that.”