Practical - Index > Urban Wildlife > Wild Animals

Education helps urban residents co-exist with animals

The Ottawa Citizen
February 26, 2006

Skunked by both the city and the province, Feb. 21.

While I understand that having a wildlife problem can be frustrating and even overwhelming, former Toronto resident John Andrews's fears about his family being bitten and sprayed by a rampaging Ottawa skunk are unfounded. Skunks only spray when seriously threatened.

True, it can be very unpleasant when the spray marking of territory during the mating season gets drawn into a house through wet foundation walls or cold-air returns.

However, trapping and relocating a skunk to solve the problem is akin to trying to fix a hole in the boat by draining the lake. Rather, you need to animal-proof under your porch so it does not become a temporary shelter for wildlife over the winter or spring birthing season.

Ottawa's abundant greenspace and wildlife are viewed by the majority of residents as an asset. The Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre has established the website because it knows people have to be given the tools to live in harmony with nature. The site provides factual information about wildlife and their habits, as well as cost-effective solutions for solving wildlife problems.

This information should alleviate the unwarranted fear expressed by Mr. Andrews that skunks are "vermin that are known rabies carriers." Skunks are actually members of the mustelidae family, and our centre did not see a single rabid skunk in 15 years of running the wildlife rehabilitation program.

Government, or more precisely taxpayers, should not be expected to solve wildlife problems that can be easily remedied by the homeowner. Governments, like the City of Ottawa, can, however, be part of the solution by directing people to helpful, free information on the centre's website.

Kate MacNeil,
Education co-ordinator,
Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre