Killing of an Elk

Killing of an Elk
Posted on October 15, 2013 | Sharon Wolfe | Written on October 15, 2013
Letter type:

I read with sadness and disgust about the elk that was shot and killed on Tuesday last week. Roads were closed, traffic diverted, humans were at risk of being shot by a stray bullet, a terrified elk the victim of the City of Ottawa. Unfortunately for the elk, the City once again let the police deal with a situation that is clearly not their area of expertise or responsibility.

The elk scenario and how it played out is not new. In 2010, a young moose was killed in Orleans because it happened to wonder into a residential area. The MNR (our wildlife expert apparently), was called but did not dispatch assistance. The priority of the police is human safety and with no support from the MNR or a City wildlife strategy to reference, they had to make the decision to shoot the moose. There was public outcry then at how poorly the situation was managed, but neither the City or MNR learned from that horrific experience (shooting the moose near an elementary school with children inside).

I am embarrassed at how ineffective our City and the MNR are when it comes to wildlife encounters in an urban setting. Wildlife organizations have tried to work with these groups to establish a Wildlife Strategy, investing many hours, to no avail. The City and MNR in their arrogance have decided not to invest in putting an updated strategy in place to manage these situations whereby the animal actually survives it's encounter with humans when it inadvertently wonders into the city.

I am sure many of us would rather have seen this beautiful, healthy animal calmed and then assisted at nightfall to return the way he came, obviously through a greenspace corridor. If wildlife organizations had been taken seriously when the Wildlife Strategy was being developed, I think many of us would have witnessed a more positive outcome to this situation. When is the City going to learn?

About The Author


Tiina Payson

I don't really understand the problem here other than that Ottawa and NCC don't have the expertise to handle these situations, and just can't admit it. Not that every animal-in-the-city interaction in Edmonton or Calgary ends well, but many do and effort is made to ensure the animals are safely relocated to the wilderness. That includes moose (every year, three in one day just this past July), bears, cougars, & beavers. There are also deer and coyotes living within the city that don't get shot or even relocated - we've learned to live as neighbours. So as far as I know, Canada has the expertise, Ottawa public servants just have to ask. Hm, is that the rub?

Great point Tina, thank you for commenting! I'm glad to hear Alberta's cities are more progressive in how they deal with wayward wildlife within city boundaries. They're efforts will be rewarded.

Thanks for taking the time to comment, Tiina. It's nice to know that some cities in Canada have learned to live with wildlife. Wish I could say the same for our nation's capital.

Tiina Payson

Further to my previous comment: Every year we have moose in the City of Edmonton, this past summer, there were 3 in one day! One was tranquilized and relocated, one was 'encouraged' to head to the bush, and one got on its way all by itself. I am baffled by the lack of knowledge of Ottawa area rangers.

Thank you for the link, Tiina. I was delighted to read how residents were excited about seeing moose in their midst and, of course, how the moose were handled by officials. I will be sharing the article with others who are trying to work towards a kinder resolution to wildlife encounters here in Ottawa.

This letter made me think that I should look up the meaning of the 'Elk' according to the First Nations. Here's what I found... from Ted Andrews' book 'Animal Speak':

"The elk is one of the most regal animals of North America. It is powerful and strong. It is an animal of great strength and stamina. If an elk has come into your life it can mean that you are about to hit your stride. Elk may also have shown up to teach you how to pace yourself more effectively. Have you been overdoing it? Are you trying for the quick and easy when the long and steady will be most effective?

An elk is in its power time during the fall. This is its rutting season. Except during the season of rut, elks stay with their own gender--males with males, females with females. Sometimes elk will show up as a totem to remind us that we need to have the company of the opposite sex occasionally for balance."

Killing animals tends to be a 'male' thing to do. Perhaps this elk was a message to us all to take a more measured approach to managing wildlife within the city. A message we continue to fail to heed.

Thanks for this, James. Very interesting. We are so fortunate to have a variety of wildlife. We need to stop sacrificing wildlife and learn to co-exist.