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Wildlife and plants

Avoiding problems with wildlife

Basic information and tips on how to avoid problems with wildlife around your home and neighbourhood.

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Species List

Find out more about the many species of wildlife that share our City.

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Species at risk

snapping turtle

Did you know that nearly 60 species at risk may call Ottawa home? These plants and animals are considered by the provincial and/or federal government to be endangered, threatened or of special concern. Although some have not been seen here in many years, others are still widespread. Examples include the butternut (a tree endangered by a lethal fungal disease), the bobolink (a threatened grassland bird), and the snapping turtle (a species of special concern). Most species at risk live in fields, woods or wetlands, but others like the peregrine falcon and chimney swift can be found living on buildings downtown!

Endangered and threatened species and their habitat are protected under the provincial Endangered Species Act, 2007 and, in some cases, the federal Species at Risk Act. The Provincial Policy Statement and the Official Plan (Section 4.7.4) prohibit development or site alteration within areas of significant habitat for endangered or threatened species, and require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) [ PDF ] to demonstrate that no negative impacts will occur for development or site alteration adjacent to such habitat. 

Species of special concern, the lowest risk category, may be protected under various existing laws (e.g., Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, Migratory Birds Convention Act, Fisheries Act). Areas of significant habitat for species of special concern are protected under the Provincial Policy Statement and the Official Plan as significant wildlife habitat. Development and site alteration are not permitted within or adjacent to significant wildlife habitat unless an EIS demonstrates there will be no negative impact. 

You can help protect species at risk by learning more about them, and reporting any sightings to the Ministry of Natural Resources’ Kemptville District Office and central database. Our local Conservation Authorities are also looking for information about some species, such as butternut, various turtles, and American eels. Landowners who engage in stewardship of species at risk on their properties may qualify for provincial tax incentive programs or funding for projects that benefit the species. Bobolink
 
For more information about species at risk, please refer to the following web sites:

Wildlife Strategy

City Council approved the Wildlife Strategy in 2013. Read the strategy and find out more about its implementation.

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Wildlife speaker series

As part of the Wildlife Strategy, the City of Ottawa initiated a Wildlife Speaker Series to increase residents' knowledge and appreciation of wildlife.

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Protocol for Wildlife Protection during Construction

The updated City of Ottawa Protocol for Wildlife Protection during Construction has been developed in response to a direction provided by Council on July 17, 2013, as part of the City’s Wildlife Strategy. The protocol is a compilation of best practices that serves as a guide and a common frame of reference for the City and the development industry in addressing wildlife protection during construction. The protocol also serves as a guide and frame of reference for City staff involved in planning and carrying out capital projects or other activities that may affect wildlife and wildlife habitat. The protocol itself is not intended to define new requirements for wildlife protection during construction, nor does the protocol provide for proponents of development a means to not adhere to other applicable legislation such as the Endangered Species Act, 2007 or the Migratory Birds Convention Act. The techniques and methods to provide for wildlife protection will continue to be identified by proponents of development through studies that are required as set out in the Official Plan (e.g., Environmental Impact Statements, Tree Conservation Reports) to meet legislative requirements and with consideration to best practices as compiled within this document. Specific requirements for wildlife protection will continue to be defined by staff in consultation with proponents and their consultants, and included as conditions of approval where appropriate through subdivision, condominium and site plans.

Protocol for Wildlife Protection during Construction

Kanata North Nuisance Mosquito Control Program

The Kanata North Nuisance Mosquito Control Program targets mosquito larva found in wetlands to prevent hatching. The small, localized, program is approved for four years from 2016 to 2019.

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Plants

Find out more about the over 1,000 different native plants in the Ottawa area.

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Learning about nature

If you’ve ever wondered “What’s that bird / bug / plant / critter?” when you’re out exploring, you’re not alone! People used to carry around a variety of field guides to help them identify what they saw. Now, smartphone applications such as iNaturalist can suggest identifications based on your photographs, which other users can verify if you upload your sighting.  You can help contribute to our knowledge of which plants and animals live in Ottawa by reporting the things you see!  

There are many resources available online to help you learn more about the plants and animals that share our city. Here are just a few:

Ottawa’s Wildlife – lists of local mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, fishes, dragonflies and damselflies, and butterflies

Canadian Wildlife Federation Encyclopedias 

All About Birds (Cornell University)  

Birds in Your Region – create your own local guide (Birds Canada) 

BugGuide.Net – North American insects, spiders and their kin 

Fishes of the National Capital Region 

Ontario Reptiles and Amphibians (Ontario Nature) 

Ontario Species at Risk  

Ontario Tree Atlas