Ottawa’s War on Wildlife

Ottawa’s War on Wildlife
Posted on May 17, 2013 | Ontario Wildlife Coalition | Written on May 16, 2013
Comments
Letter type:
Open

Author's Note:

Author's Note:

This letter writing campaign has been inspired by the City's mismanagement of the wildlife in Ottawa.

Dear Ottawa residents,

It seems Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson doesn’t have much regard for ‘process’. Judging by the Wildlife Strategy fiasco, he has even less respect for ‘public consultation’.

In February 2010, Ottawa City Council unanimously approved the development of a progressive Wildlife Strategy, based on wildlife-sensitive planning and public education. It came about due to public pressure from residents frustrated with the City’s approach to wildlife that included shooting moose, trapping coyotes and beavers and gassing groundhogs in neighbourhood parks.

Criticism of the secretive inter-agency group of City by-law, MNR and NCC staff that made all wildlife decisions prompted Council to appoint community stakeholders, along with others, to a Wildlife Strategy Working Group. The Strategy was to go to a joint meeting of the Planning and Environment and Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committees.

Instead, three years later, the mayor has turned the Wildlife Strategy over to the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, in spite of the fact that these are urban wildlife issues, not agricultural ones. Even more incredible is the fact that community stakeholders had actually been ‘dismissed’ from the process back in December 2011, although someone had forgotten to tell them.

Correspondence obtained by the Ontario Wildlife Coalition through Freedom of Information shows this timing suspiciously corresponds to a proposal for an “alternative” Wildlife Strategy submitted by the Eastern Ontario Deer Advisory Committee, an advocacy group for hunting interests, through the City’s Rural Affairs Office. The proposal, according to one city staff member, is your “basic trappers’ manifesto”. It appears that the Rural Affairs Office is the tail that wags the dog at Ottawa City Hall.

As for the City’s newest draft Wildlife Strategy, it still intends to trap and kill beavers, all the while encroaching on important wetlands, transforming them into municipal ‘infrastructure’, it has a recommendation that opens the door for coyotes to be ‘removed’ and the few items under education are simply window dressing that will have little positive impact on the community’s interface with wildlife. And, oh yes, it proposes the creation of a Wildlife Biologist position at a cost of $100,000 a year to taxpayers. The position would report to the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee whose chair has been an outspoken proponent for lethal control, hiring a trapper out of his office budget to kill coyotes and speaking out on CBC in support of a coyote cull.

When wildlife organizations like ours finally resigned last year, we were accused by the City of walking away from the table. Imagine, what kind of dupes from the community would have remained involved in such a sham?

Donna DuBreuil
Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre

About The Author

Ontario WildlifeCoalition's picture

The Ontario Wildlife Coalition was formed to urge the return of a progressive wildlife rehabilitation service in Ontario, to advocate on behalf of wildlife and to seek long-term, humane solutions for human/wildlife... More

Comments

Wow! You're right Donna, this is the wrong course of action taken by the wrong people. Sounds like City Hall is rapidly becoming Parliament Hill where gun lobbyists set Canadian gun policy.

This is crazy stuff that needs to be addressed asap.

I'm very surprised the Mayor would assign this task to Doug Thompson and the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. They are not the right people to properly manage this issue.

Delia Coates

In response to the issues with the city's dealing with wildlife I sent a letter both to my city councillor and to the mayor Jim Watson.

Here are my letters:

Subject: The Strategy is Incomplete

Hello Mr. El-Chantiry,

I have just forwarded this letter to Mayor Jim Watson's Office. They aren't my words exactly but they are my sentiment.

We need to work together intelligently regarding wildlife issues to come up with the humane solutions the original wildlife strategy was supposed to embody. I know there are a lot of farmers and hunters in our region who have wildlife issues but this does not need to be at the expense of wildlife. This is not a black and white issue as it appears to be with the current strategy. I would like to see the City of Ottawa reconsider its handling of wildlife challenges and involve a diversity of knowledgeable stakeholders to come up with solutions we can all be comfortable with even if this means starting again. We are all a part of this city and paying our taxes and should be heard and considered when heartfelt issues are on the table.

I would appreciate a response on this that indicates what actions will be taken.
Best regards,
Delia Coates
Woodlawn, Ontario.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

(This was a form letter but I agree with all it says)

Letter sent to Jim Watson's office:

Subject: Stop Ottawa's War on Wildlife

Dear Mayor Watson and City Councillors

We are strongly opposed to the direction you are taking with respect to the City of Ottawa's Wildlife Strategy.

As Mayor, you have ignored the Council motion, approved in February 2010, that called for the Wildlife Strategy to go to a joint meeting of the Planning and Environment and Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committees for discussion.

Instead, you have handed it over to the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee (ARAC) whose chair, Councillor Doug Thompson's negative view of wildlife is well known. When Councillor Thompson wanted to get rid of coyotes in Osgoode he hired a trapper out of his office budget to kill them. He was quoted on CBC as supporting a coyote cull.

Mayor Watson, in a letter to community groups in February 2012, you indicated that the Wildlife Strategy will "reflect an approach to human-wildlife conflict that essentially promotes co-existence". The process that you have chosen shows that you have clearly broken this promise.

We are deeply disturbed that you are ignoring the views of 90% of Ottawa residents who, like our family, live in urban and suburban communities and want to see humane, non-lethal solutions to human-wildlife conflicts.

The Strategy that is going forward does not reflect this in that the majority of beavers are still going to be killed in Ottawa, all the while the City continues to encroach on important wetlands, transforming them into municipal 'infrastructure'; a new recommendation opens the door for coyotes to be 'removed'; and many of the other recommendations are simply window dressing that will have little positive impact on the community's interface with wildlife.

We are particularly concerned about the process you have chosen and what lies behind it. Why was the Wildlife Strategy Working Group abandoned in December 2011, without any further meetings held since then, although you had promised less than a month before to accelerate the Wildlife Strategy? It appears an 'alternative' Wildlife Strategy submitted by the Eastern Ontario Deer Advisory Committee, an advocacy group for hunting interests, received through the Rural Affairs Office, is behind your decision to discard the community stakeholders that had been appointed. We urge you to make public this 'alternative' Wildlife Strategy, one that is reported to categorize all urban wildlife as 'nuisances' and fair game for lethal removal, so we can understand what is behind your decision and what lies ahead in your plans to hand over what are primarily urban wildlife concerns to the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.

We are very concerned about the major bias shown in this flawed reporting line and are opposed to the creation of a Wildlife Biologist position that would report to the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee at a cost of $100,000 a year. It will do nothing to solve urban wildlife issues and is an unacceptable waste of our tax dollars that will continue to generate wide public criticism.

We urge you to get back to working with community stakeholders in implementing an accountable, transparent and progressive Wildlife Strategy that reflects the views of the majority of Ottawa residents and is befitting a metropolitan city and the nation's capital. Wildlife is the rightful concern of all members of the community as well as the councillors that represent us. As the 2014 election draws near, we will be watching closely to see where you, as Mayor, and our City Councillor stand on this matter.

Sincerely,
Delia Coates

Margaret

My brother suggested I might like this web site.
He was totally right. This post actually made my day.
You can not imagine simply how much time I had spent for this info!
Thanks!

Anita Utas

Having followed from the outset the development of what was promised to be a humane Wildlife Strategy focusing on co-existence, I am appalled at what has transpired. The majority of Ottawa residents want a progressive, humane Wildlife Strategy, with involvement from the community, and transparency from the city. What we have is duplicitous shenanigans from the Mayor's office, deals behind closed doors, handing off of a critical issue to the worst possible committee, Agriculture and Rural Affairs. This new Wildlife Strategy does not do what was promised. We are handed a 'trapper's manifesto' and we are supposed to accept it?? Councilor Doug Thompson was responsible for hiring a trapper to kill coyotes, using money from his office budget and you're telling me that he has good intentions for city wildlife? We are not idiots, Mayor Watson. And, city councilors, you should be ashamed. Not one of you has put your neck out to challenge or comment on the emperor's new clothes. You just all tow the line, and in effect, you are all responsible for the continued trapping, strangling, gassing and crushing deaths of animals that feel fear and pain, just like we do. Unbelievable, how in the 21st century, this kind of disgusting treatment of animals still goes on when there are humane, cost-effective and progressive strategies sitting there right in front of your face. What a nice role model the nation's capital is for the rest of the country.

william huard

We know all too well what the "Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee" would look like in the US. A bunch of greedy, homophobic, backward- wildlife killers. They are a dying breed of dinosaur who doesn't want to give up control over FED and public lands.....but they want us to pay for the killing with our tax dollars....as they whine and whine.....

Heidi Perryman

The city is going to get wildlife whether it wants it or not, whether it orders a mass cull or traps as needed, living with wildlife is a challenge that all urban areas face. Choosing long-term solutions, that resolve problems, encourage biodiversity, and protect property makes more sense than pointlessly hiring trappers again and again.

My own low-lying city was worried about flooding from a beaver dam 6 years ago. Public pressure forced the city to respond with a flow device instead of trapping. Now because of our beaver-created wetlands we regularly see otter, heron, steelhead, woodduck and even mink in our tiny urban stream!

Flow devices have worked and ARE working in storm water ponds around the northern hemisphere. There has been absolutely no data offered to show why Ottawa's would be different.

Any city smarter than a beaver can keep a beaver. Does Mayor Watson think Ottawa isn't?

Heidi Perryman, Ph.D.
Worth A Dam
Martinez CA USA