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Other animals

Livestock, rabbits and pigeons

In urban and suburban areas of the City not zoned for agricultural purposes, the keeping of domestic farm animals and fowl (such as horses, donkeys, mules, cattle, goats, swine, chickens, ducks and geese) is prohibited. In areas where such livestock may be kept, it may not run-at-large. The keeping of rabbits and pigeons in urban areas is also regulated with certain standards for keeping and setting limits on numbers established.

Exotic animals

Ottawa residents may not keep certain exotic or wild animals, known as "prohibited" animals. 

Check the  Animal Care and Control By-law for the detailed list (Schedule B). Regulations prohibiting the keeping of certain "exotic" animals existed in most of the former municipalities and are necessary for public health and safety, as well as animal welfare, particularly as it relates to appropriate care for species with highly specialized needs.

Having a problem with wildlife?

Bats

Calls about sick bats, bats found in sleeping areas, or bats that have been handled by a human or have bitten a human, may be referred to the City at 3-1-1.

Birds

When it comes to information on and care for wild birds, the Ottawa area has one of the leading centres in Canada. The Ottawa Valley Wild Bird Care Centre is a registered charity operating under the authorization of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and the Canadian Wildlife Service. The Centre cares for sick, injured and orphaned wild birds before releasing them back into the wild. For more information, call the Centre at 613-828-2849 or visit its web site. 

Canada Geese

Please do not feed the birds. Feeding birds can create problems for the birds as well as for the environment. Many urban parks in Canada’s Capital Region are now inundated with gulls, ducks, geese and pigeons. 

Reasons not to feed birds

Feeding birds:

  • Can be detrimental to their health as it can lead to dietary and nutritional problems. Birds are better off building their reserves by moving from location to location in search of a healthy natural diet.
  • Makes them less wary of people and may increase their risk of being harmed. Birds become more aggressive and competitive with each other as populations become concentrated; they also have to survive in a world filled with hazards such as dogs, cats, cars, and people.
  • Contributes to population problems in a small area. As numbers increase, it creates safety hazards and can lead to habitat degradation. Their excrement may reduce water quality, and overgrazing can cause damage to grassy areas.

Facts about Canada geese in urban areas

Manicured parks, lawns and golf courses, bordering ponds or waterfront areas, provide an ideal grazing habitat for geese.

  • An adult goose eats up to 1.8 kg (4 lb.) of grass daily and drops up to 0.9 kg (2 lb.) of fecal matter daily.
  • Once geese have nested successfully, they typically return to the same nesting site year after year, as do their offspring. Left unchecked, urban goose populations can double in size every few years. Geese typically lay from three to six eggs each year and can live as long as 24 years.
  • Geese are remarkably adaptable–they have been reported nesting in trees, roadside ditches, close to swimming pools and even on flat rooftops. 

Mammals

If you are experiencing a problem with a wild animal, such as a squirrel, racoon or skunk, do not panic and do not attempt to remove the animal. Visit wildlifeinfo.ca/conflicts.html for cost effective and humane solutions to common wildlife problems. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry regulates rehabilitation of wildlife and a permit from the MNRF is required. Wild animals may not be cared for in your home. Calls about injured wild animals may be referred to 3-1-1.

Rabies

It is also important to be aware that there are Provincial regulations governing wildlife management. Learn more about rabies in Ontario at www.rabies.mnr.gov.on.ca (rabies cases, fact sheets, relocation, etc.). For information on rules and regulations regarding wildlife in captivity and authorizations, please contact the Kemptville District Office of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry at 613-258-8204.

All cats and dogs must be vaccinated against rabies - it's the law (Health Protection and Promotion Act) and in the best interest of your health and that of your family pet.

Coyotes

Coyotes are remarkably adaptable and resourceful animals. They help to maintain the natural balance in landscapes where traditional predators no longer exist. Urban coyotes in particular provide a valuable service to us by helping to control populations of animals that might otherwise become problematic, such as rats and Canada geese. With greater understanding and mutual respect, we can coexist with coyotes.

Conflicts between coyotes and humans often revolve around food. Never feed coyotes! This can cause coyotes to lose their natural fear of humans (a process known as “habituation”), increasing the chance of conflict.

Aggression by coyotes towards humans is extremely rare and almost always involves habituated animals. It is not normal behaviour.

If a coyote approaches you:

  • stand tall, wave your arms and shout at it
  • do not make direct eye contact, which can be perceived as a threat
  • pick up small children (or small pets) to make them appear less vulnerable
  • do not turn your back or run – just like dogs, coyotes may chase you if you run
  • back away slowly while continuing to shout, wave.

Teach your children to react the same way, and to let you know immediately if they have seen a coyote (keep in mind that small children may not be able to tell the difference between a wild coyote and a neighbourhood dog).

Dealing with coyotes near your home

If you see coyotes near your home, make sure they have no reason to hang around:

  • keep pets inside or closely supervised, take down any bird feeders, secure your trash and other attractants (e.g. barbeque)
  • let the coyotes know that they’re unwelcome by shouting and waving your arms at them, clanging pots or pans, playing loud music or (if they’re close enough) and spraying them with water from a hose
  • homemade rattles made out of empty pop cans and pebbles may also be effective when shaken or tossed towards (not directly at) the coyote
  • let your neighbours know what’s going on, so that they can take similar steps
  • carry a flashlight when walking at night and avoid wooded areas, especially when there have been coyote sightings.

Coyotes and domestic animals

Coyotes are naturally aggressive towards dogs, which they typically consider either as prey or as competitors. Dogs that are smaller than coyotes are usually seen as prey, and may be attacked at any time of year. Larger dogs are mostly at risk during the coyotes’ breeding season (January-April) due to increased territorialism in defence of mates and pups. Keep dogs on leash when walking them near parks or natural areas, and supervise them closely when letting them out at night.

Who should I call when I see a coyote?

Aggressive behaviour by a coyote towards a human should be reported immediately to the Ottawa Police Service by calling 9-1-1.

If you have been bitten or scratched by a coyote, please call Ottawa Public Health, (or 3-1-1 after hours) to speak with a Public Health Inspector.

All other coyote sightings should be reported to 3-1-1, so the City can track the locations of the animals.

For more information, consult the following links:

Royal Swans

In June 2019, Council gifted the five remaining Royal Swans to Parc Safari Inc. in Hemmingford, Quebec. The goal was to ensure proper care of the ageing flock.

The City of Ottawa has operated the Royal Swan Program since 1967, when Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II gave six pairs of Mute swans to the City in celebration of Canada’s Centennial. In 1974, the City received a pair of Australian Black swans in a trade with the Montreal Zoo.

Since that time, the swans and their descendants have resided on the Rideau River during the spring and summer months. During late fall and winter they were housed in an indoor facility. Parc Safari has provided optimum care for the Royal Swans over the winter months since 2016.

Gifting the Royal Swans to Parc Safari is the best option for the health and well-being of the animals. It eliminates the stress caused by transporting them long distances twice a year.

At Parc Safari, the remaining birds continue to receive care that includes: preventative and emergency veterinary attention, high quality feed, protected swimming areas, and a quiet and private environment.

A commemorative plaque will be installed at Parc Safari, providing information on the history of the Royal Swans and recognizing the gifting by the City of Ottawa.