Organizations quit wildlife strategy working group

Two wildlife groups say they have ended their relationship with a group working to develop a strategy for dealing with wild animals like coyotes and moose.

The Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre and the Ontario Wildlife Coalition said they were asked two years ago to be on a working group to craft a city strategy for handling wildlife.

The group was formed after a number of instances of coyotes roaming near community centres and homes and after a number of incidents in which Ottawa police officers shot and killed moose who had wandered into residential areas.

But after seeing a draft version of the city's plan, both groups say it doesn't represent their views and have asked that their names be removed from any final document produced by the city.

Donna Dubreuil of the Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre said she pushed for its creation in the first place out of frustration that the city was trapping and killing coyotes, instead of finding humane ways to deal with the animals.

But Dubreuil said the draft report continues to label urban animals as "nuisance" animals, which she said leads people to fear the animals and want them "dealt with."

As one line in the draft report reads: "Like a weed, a nuisance animal is simply an organism in the wrong place at the wrong time."

"Nothing has changed," said Dubreuil. "In two and half years Ottawa is still going to be trapping and killing the majority of beavers. We're now labelling wildlife nuisances."

Nick Stow, the city's senior planner of planning and growth management development, issued a statement through the city in which he expressed regret at the decision of the two organizations to quit the working group.

"The working group met seven times during development of the strategy during which members, including the Centre and the Coalition, provided extensive input on how the City should address wildlife issues. Much of this input found its way into the final draft report, which is founded on best practice wildlife management principles derived from a scientific approach to the issues," said Stow.

The draft report will go through working group members before it is released publicly at city committees and council.

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