MUSKOKA, ON – It is prime breeding season for turtles in Ontario right now and people are doing their best to avoid the reptiles on the road.

But the Ontario Provincial Police wants people to do this safely.

On July 4th a man was seen running into live traffic on Highway 11 near Bracebridge to rescue a transiting turtle. While a valiant gesture, such moves can be dangerous for both the potential turtle saver and motorists alike.

Sergeant Jason Folz of the Ontario Provincial Police agrees, saying the way a person goes about trying to help a turtle across the road needs to start with a safe approach.

“I think people are really well-intended in trying to assist those turtles, and I really feel it can be done safely,” he said.

The first step is making sure your car is off the road and don’t use it as a way to block other motorists. That could result in an accident and could get you charged.

“People will try to use their vehicle as a blocker much like a police car at a crash scene,” Folz explained. “That never really goes well stopping in a live lane and it is actually an offence.”

He said to try to avoid entering a roadway from in front of your vehicle. This could reduce the amount of time other drivers have to react to what you are doing.

“Make your intentions very clear and make eye contact with other drivers before you make that assist and things will go much smoother,” Folz offered. “While we want to save turtles and wildlife, human lives are what is most important.”

He also recommends that if there is another person in the car that is of an appropriate age, they go back a few hundred metres and signal to other drivers to be prepared to slow down or stop.

Folz admits sometimes a collision with wildlife is unavoidable, but hitting the animal is always preferable to swerving and possibly hitting another vehicle or person on the roadway.

“Sometimes you are not going to be able to save them,” he said. “That last car is now looking at you now, not the turtle, you are a distraction and they (the turtles) may get hit by the last vehicles coming by and that’s just the way it is sometimes. Save the ones you can, sometimes you can’t.”