A snapping turtle is being released back into its natural environment after a lengthy recovery.

In the summer of 2021, Kylee Gamble and her family were boating on Wabigoon Lake heading to Devil’s Island to do some fishing when they hit something in the water. After turning around, the object turned out to be none other than a snapping turtle.

“ We drove up to it slowly and noticed that it had a cracked shell with some inside hanging outside. We felt awful and didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to just leave it. My husband and I called around to see if anyone knew what to do, but most people said just leave it,” said Gamble.

She took it upon herself to help the turle and came across the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre (OTCC) in Peterborough. Members of the OTCC advised her to get the creature to shore where it could be picked up and brought to Southern Ontario.

“I called our neighbour and begged them to put their boat in the water and help us. They showed up with a Tupperware container and a net and were able to get the turtle into their boat. Once back at home, we put the turtle in a larger container and waited to hear back from their contact, Alison. Sure enough, about 5 hours later, the turtle, we named Goonie, was picked up,” Gamble added.

Goonie was flown out to Sudbury, then driven to the OTCC where it was examined and underwent surgery to realign its shell and begin rehabilitation.

“In the fall, my Grade 1 class took a virtual tour of the OTCC where we learned about the amazing work they do and that Goonie was doing well and his shell was healing.”

The Gamble family was notified that Goonie had healed and was ready to be released in the spring, but, due to the late ice-out, his release had to be postpones.

Goonie the snapping turle will travel back to Dryden on Thursday where the family will release it back into Wabigoon Lake.

For those concerned of snapping turtles in their local waterways, Chris Martin, biologist with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry reassures that there is no danger.

"If you have snapping turtles that are living on your waterfront, absolutely continue to use your lakefront for boating, swimming, and other activities. Otherwise, it's good to give them plenty of space. I would say there is a very small chance snapping turtles might mistake toes dangling in the water for food. So, it's just a good idea to move your feet a little bit, if you're doing activities, or just refrain from doing that if you're at all concerned about snapping turtles. It's extremely rare for them to pose any danger to us," he said.

Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre