HALIBURTON, ON – In fishing mad cottage country there is one creature lurking below the surface anglers try to avoid.

Turtles are the bane of existence for fisher people everywhere. As you cast for that elusive largemouth bass a huge hit on the line promises the prospect of a trophy catch.

As you reel it in you start to think perhaps you snagged a log. Such weight. And then you see what is working so hard against you. A 15-pound snapping turtle, legs whirling away trying to escape.

The next move is critical. Some people just cut the line, reasoning a hook will rust out as they are designed to do. But the folks at the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre urge people to take the effort to get that hook out. A hook left in the mouth will affect its ability to eat, infection could set in, or it could dislodge and end up being swallowed.

The first piece of advice is to lift the turtle out using a net if possible. You could injure a turtle by hauling it in by its mouth to the shore.

A snapping turtle can be quite dangerous so care is needed around its mouth. If a second set of hands are available to stabilize the turtle it is a good idea. Needle nose pliers are the best tool to remove the hook from the turtle’s mouth.

If the hook won’t come out and you feel more damage is being done, professional help may be required. A call to the  Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre (OTCC) in Peterborough 705-741-5000 could help. The centre’s staff will do an over the phone evaluation and if it is determined the turtle needs to be treated then arrangements are made.

Staff appreciate if the turtle can be driven directly to the centre but if that is not possible ‘Turtle Taxis’, a network of volunteer drivers, will pick it up and take it to Peterborough. It is important to note that not all veterinarian clinics are able to treat turtles. The OTTC has a network of 35 front-line clinics that can take a turtle in and offer first aid and pain management.


Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre 

1434 Chemong Road, Unit #4

Peterborough, Ontario