The Ontario Wildlife Coalition isgravely concernedabout wildlife in Ottawadue to the direction the Mayor and council are headed in regarding the city’s Wildlife Strategy. A draft was recently madepublic, and the potential ramifications are significant. We need YOUR help!
A summary of the issues:
- The mayor ignored the Council motion (from 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, the Wildlife Strategy has been handed over solely to the agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee (AFAC).
- The chair of AFAC is Councillor Doug Thompson, whose negative view towards wildlife is widely understood. In fact, when Councillor Thompson wanted to deal with coyotes in Osgoode, he hired two trappers out of his office budget to kill them. He has been active in promoting coyote culls and in 2010 his weekly newsletter to constituents even advertised the Ottawa “coyote contest” (in which each dead coyote presented earned the participant a ballot and a toonie to a farm and hunting supply store.)
- Mayor Watson, in a letter to community groups in February 2012, stated that the Wildlife Strategy will “reflect an approach to human-wildlife conflict that essentially promotes co-existence”. His recent decisions indicate that he has gone back on his word.
- In December 2011, the Wildlife Strategy Working Group was abandoned, without any further meetings, even though Mayor Watson had promised less than a month earlier, to accelerate the strategy. The Ontario Wildlife Coalition believes that an ‘alternative’ Wildlife Strategy submitted by the Eastern Ontario Deer Advisory Committee, an advocacy group for hunting interests, was behind his decision to abandon the Working Group.
- The decision to create a Wildlife Biologist position that would report to AFAC at a cost of $100,000 per year is a waste of money, as it will do nothing to solve urban wildlife issues.
In their press release, they explain that“[t]he Mayor has disregarded Council’s directive and handed everything over to Councillor Thompson who has been very vocal in his support for lethal management of wildlife.If Councillor Thompson has his way, the rural practices of less than 10% of Ottawa’s population will be imposed on 90% of residents who live in urban and suburban communities.This does not bode well for residents of Ottawa who want a humane, non-lethal resolution to human/wildlife conflicts and it most definitely does not bode well for wildlife in Ottawa.”
So how will this affect wildlife?
The Coalition goes explains that the strategy means “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.”
What can you do?
Volunteer 2 minutes of your time to help the Ontario Wildlife Coalition by sending a pre-written letter to Mayor and council, you can find that here.
The letter asks them to get back to working with community stakeholders in implementing an accountable, transparent and progressive Wildlife Strategy! Once you’ve signed, please share!