Several western painted turtles have been crushed as they cross Westlake Road. (Photo courtesy of Paige Erickson-McGee)

Several western painted turtles have been crushed as they cross Westlake Road. (Photo courtesy of Paige Erickson-McGee)

City of West Kelowna to install trail cams to monitor turtle crossing at Westlake Road

2020 has seen an increase in turtle mortality in the area

The City of West Kelowna is installing trail cameras on Westlake Road to keep track of how western painted turtles in the area behave.

This year has been particularly difficult for the turtles as many of them have been crushed or injured as they cross the roads between the two ponds by the road.

The city’s director of engineering and public works Allen Fillion said Westlake Road was upgraded from 2013 to 2014, with crews installing two culverts under the road surface meant to be the turtles’ crossing.

“May and June is always migrating season for them. We have signage in place and just a year ago, we put up an even bigger signage notifying drivers that it’s a turtle crossing and to drive with caution,” he said.

“But this year, we were seeing a bit more casualties than normal. So we’ve gone out and done a few things to help.”

Among those things, Fillion said, is a large digital sign along the road to let drivers know it’s a turtle crossing, as well as a review of the work done back in 2013-2014.

Fillion added they reconnected with the team that designed the upgrades to the roadway to help them assess the situation and set up the cameras to watch the turtles. But he said the main thing is for drivers, especially those who are unfamiliar to the area, to drive carefully and pay attention to the signage instead of just driving through.

Westlake Road resident Wade Neukomm said the turtles might not be using the underground crossing due to a few reasons, including debris blocking their way.

“The turtles instinctually migrate between the two ponds during their nesting period… but it looks like drainage from one side of the road has passed through down to the lower side so it’s created a bit of an erosion (in the culvert), so it’s potentially harder for them to get into it to make their way across, so then they end up taking the road,” he said.

“What I just said is speculation at this point, but it’s from observing what the situation is. We won’t know for sure until the city’s design team comes back with the data.”

He said it’s hard to say why there are so many more mortalities this year, but each incident is making residents concerned and angry.

“When you see an endangered species crushed on the side of the road in what seems to be an addressable problem, it fires a lot of people up.”

Westlake Road is an arterial road and is used by hundreds of people, Neukomm said, which is why traffic calming measures may be difficult to put in or enforce.

Fillion said the city is open to reducing speed in the area once the data comes back but in the meantime, he said drivers should keep their eyes open and drive with caution so as to avoid more turtle casualties.

READ: B.C. author speaks about discrimination against Indigenous peoples

READ: Thompson Okanagan safe destination: World Travel & Tourism Council


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
Follow me on Twitter

City of West Kelowna

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

West Kelowna City Hall on Cameron Road. (File photo)
Rose Valley water treatment facility to cost less than planned

The contract of $45.1 million was awarded to developer Maple Reinders Constructors Ltd .

A $3,000 donation from the Gary Bennett Family Fund will go towards baby products for families in need. (Central Okanagan Food Bank)
Okanagan charity donates $3,000 to support young families

The Gary Bennett Family Fund donated to Central Okanagan Food Bank

Project rendering of Hadgraft Wilson Place (CNW Group/Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation)
68-unit affordable housing complex coming downtown Kelowna

The six-storey complex located on Fuller Ave is set to be completed by fall 2022

Accelerate Okanagan has announced the six finalists for the 2021 OKGN Angel Summit. The remaining entrepreneurs will compete for a chance to receive a $145,000 investment in their business. (Eryca Stirling photo)
Finalists named for Okanagan entrepreneur summit

Accelerate Okanagan has named the final six competing entrepreneurs in the OKGN Angel Summit

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Ranchero Deep Creek firefighters respond to a blaze involving two adjacent structures at a property off of Deep Creek Road on Sunday, Feb. 21. The buildings were believed to have been used as part of a cannabis growing operation, and RCMP are investigating. (Sean Coubrough/CSRD photo)
Ranchero Deep Creek firefighters respond to a blaze involving two adjacent structures at a property off of Deep Creek Road on Sunday, Feb. 21. The buildings were believed to have been used as part of a cannabis growing operation, and RCMP are investigating. (Sean Coubrough/CSRD photo)
Shuswap firefighters responding to structure blaze find cannabis grow operation

RCMP investigating, attempting to track down owner of property

Interior Health officially declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Creekside Landing in Vernon on Jan. 3, which was followed by the first death from the virus 10 days later. (Kaigo photo)
COVID outbreak over at Vernon care home

Creekside Landing cleared of coronavirus, despite additional death in last day

(Stock photo)
EDITORIAL: The freedom to read

Books have been challenged many times in the past

Most Read