FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OTTAWA - Horizon Ottawa is calling on the City and relevant authorities to investigate the killing of a bear by Ottawa Police Monday evening that had been spotted the past several weeks in Kanata and Bell's Corners.
In a statement released this morning, the Ottawa Police said that "after exhausting all available options, it became clear that the animal could not be safely relocated." This is despite both the National Capital Commission and Ottawa Bylaw on Friday saying they were working with the province to try and humanely trap the bear and return it to the wilderness.
In 2018, in a similar incident, a bear was found walking around the Byward Market. The bear was tranquilized and later released back into the wild by conservation officers.
Coyote encounters are also a significant issue in areas in Ottawa close to NCC land and greenspace, where they sometimes pose a threat to public safety. The NCC however does say in most cases, the best way to deal with coyotes is to ensure that measures are put into place to prevent worst case scenarios instead of reactive ones.
"The Ottawa Police are not wildlife experts. A unilateral decision on their part to euthanize the bear, where other options had not been exhausted, would be cause for concern. " said Sam Hersh, a Board Member of Horizon Ottawa. "Similar incidents and sightings have happened in the city that don't result in this sort of violence. An investigation is sorely needed."
The organization is calling on an investigation to assess what authority, municipal or provincial, should have responsibility over future incidents of this kind. The City must determine whether the NCC or Ottawa Bylaw are more appropriate, especially to avoid the killing of wildlife.
Horizon Ottawa also says that urban sprawl is a key factor in the increasing number of wildlife sightings that include bears and coyotes. Unsustainable development is pushing animals out of their normal habitats with potentially devastating consequences for animals and residents alike. Councillors are encouraged to share information with their constituents on how to peacefully coexist with wildlife in their neighbourhoods.
"Urban sprawl is absolutely a factor here, and with developments like Tewin for example, these sightings will likely become more frequent." Said Hersh. "Mitigating harm to wildlife and avoiding incidents like these also includes cutting back on sprawl."
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