Stop Ottawa's War on Wildlife
Dear Mayor Watson and City Councillors,
I am 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.
I am 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.
I am 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. I 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.
I am 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.
I 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, I will be watching closely to see where you, as Mayor, and our City Councillor stand on this matter.