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Close encounters of the wild kind – living and working with urban wildlife

By Erin Seeds, DAIP, in consultation with the Ottawa Carleton Wildlife Centre –

Seeing wild animals around your office can bring enjoyment but challenges, too. Even downtown, you’re going to run into some wild animals periodically, probably smaller ones like rabbits, groundhogs, squirrels and chipmunks. Places next to large natural areas, such as NDHQ (Carling), present opportunities to encounter a wider variety of wildlife, including deer, coyotes, beavers, raccoons, ducks and Canada geese. With spring on its way, and with it baby animals, here are some tips on making sure both wildlife and people stay safe and happy:

  • Take it slow, watch for animals. Whether driving, cycling or running, make sure you don’t go too fast and make sure to keep an eye out for animals, especially at dawn and dusk. This reduces the number of wildlife injured by humans as well as damaged vehicles!
  • Stay on the path. Don’t invade natural areas by wandering off pathways; it degrades the natural areas. Leave wild places for wildlife!
  • Keep your distance. It’s important to avoid injury both to and from a wild animal, so keep a couple of feet between you and smaller animals, 20 feet for larger ones. Please don’t get close to babies or more exotic species just to get a better photo with your phone.
  • Don’t feed the animals. This prevents both people and animals from getting injured. You might enjoy it when an animal gets close, but not everyone is comfortable with them and over-friendly animals get destroyed when people complain.
  • Don’t assume animals are trapped or orphaned. If you see an animal inside a fence, don’t assume it’s trapped or lost. Animals like fenced-in places because they keep predators out; it makes them a great place to keep babies. As long as the animal is in good shape, just leave it. If it’s in bad shape, contact your building manager or one of the organizations listed at the end of this article.
  • Lids off for wildlife. Please remove lids from all drink containers before disposing of them. The smells of drink containers are attractive to many wild animals, who push their heads in and get stuck. Many animals die this way.
  • Don’t leave garbage, pick it up. Don’t litter; it’s a danger to wildlife. Also, if you see litter on the ground, pick it up. It helps keep areas enjoyable for people and animals!
  • Spread the word. If you see someone doing something they shouldn’t, please ask them to stop. Tell them why it’s important to act with care where wildlife is concerned.

Where to go for more information:

NDHQ (Carling):
The Ottawa Carleton Wildlife Centre, conveniently located next to the Campus.

Ottawa Area:
The Ottawa Humane Society, In the event of an animal emergency, call 613-725-1532.

Gatineau area:
The SPCA of Western Quebec 819-770-7722


This post is also available in: Français (French)

Latest comments

  • Such a great post about how to interact (or not) with wildlife and keep them safe! Thanks for all you do at the Ottawa Carleton Wildlife Centre!

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