As part of the Wildlife Strategy, the City of Ottawa initiated a Wildlife Speaker Series to increase residents' knowledge and appreciation of wildlife, and promote coexistence through understanding and respect. Each event features one or more guest speakers on a seasonally relevant topic, as well as an open house-style environmental exposition. The expositions feature displays by local agencies and groups, and provide additional opportunities for residents to learn about Ottawa's wildlife and natural environment, as well as local environmental initiatives. All of these events are free of charge.
The series typically includes two events per year, held in spring and fall. Detailed information about each Wildlife Speaker Series event will be posted on the City's website approximately two to three weeks in advance of the event date. The events are also advertised through Councillors' newsletters, social media, and posters at City facilities. If you would like to be added to our mailing list for the Wildlife Speaker Series, in order to receive notifications about upcoming events, please contact us.
If you would like to provide feedback or recommendations regarding the series, or would like to suggest possible topics or speakers for future events, please email us to let us know!
Date and time
Join us online for this Zoom Meeting.
Manisha Kulkarni (uOttawa) and Alison Samuel (Ottawa Public Health)
Spring is in the air and Ottawa’s natural areas and other greenspaces are beckoning. Once the trails have thawed and dried out, residents are encouraged to get outdoors! Be on the lookout for spring wildflowers, migrating birds, and biting flies and ticks. While it’s a common joke that Canada has two seasons, winter and “bug season,” black-legged ticks may be active at any time of year, depending on the temperature. The City and Ottawa Public Health want to ensure that residents know how to protect themselves from ticks, which can carry illnesses such as Lyme disease. We invite you to join us for a presentation by local experts from the University of Ottawa and Ottawa Public Health, to learn more about ticks, Lyme disease prevention, and ongoing research in our area.
Manisha Kulkarni (PhD) is an Associate Professor in the School of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Ottawa where she directs the Interdisciplinary Spatial Informatics for Global Health (INSIGHT) research lab. Dr. Kulkarni uses geospatial, epidemiological and molecular approaches to investigate the socio-ecological determinants of infectious disease emergence and risk in global settings with a focus on vector-borne diseases, including Lyme and other tick-borne diseases in Canada. Dr. Kulkarni is a Member of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists and a founding member of the Canadian Lyme Disease Research Network. In Ottawa, she works closely with communities, the National Capital Commission and Ottawa Public Health to generate knowledge on tick-borne disease risks and inform strategies for disease prevention and control.
Alison Samuel has worked as a public health professional for over 25 years, and has been with Ottawa Public Health (OPH) for 2 years. Before OPH, Ms. Samuel worked as a Public Health Inspector in several health units, as a Food Scientist with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and more recently with Public Health Ontario as a Senior Consultant. Ms. Samuel’s work has primarily focused on inspection, consultation, policy development and program delivery. She is currently the Program Lead for West Nile Virus, co-lead for the Rabies Program, and works closely with the Lyme disease program lead.
Happy Trails! Safe and responsible hiking in Natural Areas
Date and time
Speaker: Victoria Lanthier, GirlGoneGood
Spending time outdoors in nature is good for our physical and mental health, and the Ottawa area has a rich diversity of greenspaces and trails to explore . Outdoor recreation has been especially important during the pandemic, and many people have discovered the joys of hiking or biking our trails for the first time. The City wants to ensure that all trail users know how to stay safe and enjoy their experience, with minimal impact on the natural environment. We invite you to join us for a presentation by local outdoors enthusiast and wellness advocate, Vickie Lanthier of GirlGoneGood.
Vickie Lanthier (she/her) is a military veteran and served operationally with the Canadian Armed Forces. She became a public speaker, avid skydiver, and a well-traveled adventurist. After a successful career in communications within the military, she released and became an information technology consultant. She currently works as a technical architect by day and runs GirlGoneGood in her spare time. Victoria has recently completed a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Ottawa. Victoria continues to travel often and resides in Ottawa, Ontario.
Vickie’s mission for GirlGoneGood is to promote the prioritization of wellness while exploring nature for all persons, through safe and responsible recreation. The driving forces behind GirlGoneGood® are:
- helping others find new trails to explore
- encouraging respectful/smart hiking
- wellness and mental health
- supporting local/small business/community
- paying it forward
Bonsoir, tout le monde. Bienvenue. Notre présentation ce soir est en anglais. Si vous voulez, vous pouvez utiliser la fonction Interprétation dans le panneau de contrôle, et choisissez « Français ». Merci à nos interprètes.
Tonight’s presentation is being recorded and will be posted on YouTube.
Please make sure that your video is turned off if you don’t want to be seen. Your microphones will be kept on mute until the question period at the end of the presentation. At that time, we invite you to raise your hands virtually using the Reaction function at the bottom of the Zoom screen. And we will take your questions in the order that they are received. Our staff will unmute your microphone when it’s your turn to ask your question.
Please remember to lower your hand once you’ve had your turn or if someone else asks the same question that you were going to ask. We are streaming live tonight from the city of Ottawa, which is built on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe Nation. The peoples of the Anishinabe Algonquin Nation have lived on this territory for millennia. Today, Ottawa is home to approximately 40,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people. Ottawa’s indigenous community is diverse, representing many nations, languages and customs. We would like to honour the land of the First Peoples as well as all First Nations, Inuit and Métis in Ottawa and their valuable past and present contributions to this land. We encourage all those listening, wherever you might be, to do the same. Meegwetch.
Spending time outdoors in nature is good for our physical and mental health, and the Ottawa area has a rich diversity of green spaces and trails to explore. Outdoor recreation has been especially important during the pandemic, and many people have discovered the joys of hiking or biking our trails for the first time. This is a great thing, and we encourage people to keep spending time outdoors. We also want to make sure that all trail users know how to stay safe and enjoy their experience with minimal impact on the natural environment. Staying on the trails and leaving no trace helps to keep our natural areas and green spaces in good shape, not only for the next visitor, but for the generations to come. Our speaker tonight is Vickie Lanthier, a military veteran who has combined her interests in health, communication, and the outdoors into GirlGoneGood®. She has extensive experience with the trails and natural areas in and around Ottawa, and we look forward to sharing her advice with you this evening. Welcome, Vickie.
Thank you. I appreciate being here tonight with everyone. So, thank you, everyone, for having me in your homes. I appreciate again that it is sunny outside, so the opportunity to go out and play, maybe after this, is something we could take advantage of. I also like smaller groups because it means we could pay more attention to questions and answers at the end. So we go ahead to the next slide.
So what I’ll go over today is how to choose the right trail for you—after an introduction—responsible recreation, some hiker safety tips and insights, and local hiking resources for you. Next.
All right, so who am I? Very quickly. I’m an avid day hiker. I’m a frequent road tripper. I’m also a writer, I’m a veteran, IT consultant, and I have a Bachelor of Science in nursing, which is a really weird mix, admittedly. But it really is the backbone for GirlGoneGood—a quirky name, admittedly, but GirlGoneGood means doing good for myself, for others, and for nature. That’s where that name is based out of. Girlgonegood.com is a hiking resource website for southeastern Ontario. So on that website, you will find a plethora of hiking resources, tips, tricks, downloads, packing lists, trail reports, and trail recommendations in order to find the right trail for you.
I also donate 100% of my net proceeds to mental health and conservation charities. Next slide. I feel like this hits us all in the last two years especially, where we have found ourselves and our balance by going back into nature. I have really appreciated in the last few years how we have moved from being stuck in the busyness of our lives and all come out into nature to ground ourselves and maybe balance things out a little bit. Next.
Okay, so we’ll start with how to select the right trail. There are an abundance of trails within Ottawa itself and then Ottawa and region. So for me, what I talk about mostly are trails within two hours of Ottawa. We have the city of Ottawa itself, and then we have nine surrounding counties and regions that surround Ottawa within two hours. So that’s mostly the area that I’ll be talking about.
How to pick the right trail for you? I will never say in any of my resources if something is easy or beginner or family-friendly. I try to refrain from using those words. I find that they’re not only terribly subjective, but also not inclusive.
So when you’re taking a look at trail information, you want to take a look at level of effort, so how long the trail is and how much elevation gain there is. We start asking critical questions like: Is the path paved? Is it dirt? Is it boardwalk? Is it rugged? These are the kinds of questions that you want to take a look at in order to determine if it’s the right one for you.
The next is level of skill. We have to appreciate our own hiking abilities and this could be intimidating. It’s intimidating as a new hiker to get out there and know what’s what. If you are a new hiker or wanting to get into hiking, my recommendation is to join a hiking group for the first time or stick to in-town and in-city trails. And the third is to grab a hiking buddy. Those are my three safety tips if you’re trying to immerse yourself in the hiking community for the first time in trails. So, things to ask is: if there’s cell reception, is there trail signage, and how are my navigation skills? Because even within some pockets of the city of Ottawa and definitely outside, we think that this may be a popular trail and that we’re going to have the same beautiful signage that sometimes the NCC has because it’s only 30 minutes down the road.
But the reality is there might not be cell reception, you might not have signage, and you might require navigation skills in order to get through it. The third thing is the season. You’ll be surprised the differences between the seasons that we have to consider. I have a handout on my website on seasonal considerations, but there are important questions to ask, like road access during the winter. If you go out into the counties, there are plenty of trails that are… To access the trailhead, you have to drive on dirt or forest roads. That is not going to be plowed or accessible in the winter.
Then you have to ask yourself, is it a shared trail? In Ottawa, we are wonderful at sharing our trails in the winter and redesignating them to snowshoe trail or cross-country skiing or skate skiing. Not all trails can be for us hikers. We have to share them in the winter. And we have to be cognizant of that change and not to be too disruptive about it, because the reality is there are so many trails to hike, you could easily find another one. And we can leave some for our beautiful skiers and snowshoers.
Hunting season is another question to ask in the fall. So, lo and behold, even within city limits, there are pockets where there is legalized hunting, or you can legally hunt. Sorry. So you have to be cognizant of hiking within forest trails in the fall. You have to adapt for that. You have to wear bright colours. You have to speak loudly. You have to abide by any trail closures if there are any. And then, of course, the last one to consider is in the spring and mud season. I like to say that there’s actually… We don’t start hiking in the spring. It’s actually flood, then mud, then bug, and then hiking season. That seems to be our flow in Ontario.
So to have some patience with that, because it can get quite disruptive to the trail itself and the surrounding flora. And the last is to consider the features. So what kinds of features do you want to see or what kinds of features do you need in order to pick the right trail for you? So that could go from boardwalks to ramps to towers to interpretive signage to waterfalls and vistas. So those are the four considerations that I would take into account when you’re trying to select the right trail for you. Next.
So this image is a little grayed out here, and that’s okay. But this image is of Deacon Escarpment up near Golden Lake. It is a private property open to the public for hiking and cabin rentals. It is a gorgeous property with over 20 km of trails. And I just wanted to share this because as you can see, I think it gives Gatineau Park a good run for its money on how beautiful it is. And that’s simply to share that we have more than what we think for beautiful areas and trails within our reach. Next.
The 10 Essentials. So there are two things that you’re going to hear every hiker harp on, and it’s going to be the 10 Essentials, and it’s going to be Leave No Trace. So I can’t do any talk justice if I don’t talk about it. And there’s a few added things that I like to add specifically for Ontario. So let’s go over the 10 Essentials. Yeah, we could stay on this slide. So the 10 Essentials themselves are navigation, which, in the city you’re okay with your cell phone for the most part. Outside of the city, you’re going to have to strongly consider either a spotter, an emergency spotter, or a GPS or map and compass.
You’re also going to have to consider bringing an extra battery for your cell phone as well if you’re doing a longer hike. Headlamps, oh my goodness! We all love sunrise and sunset hikes. This is also a prime opportunity for us to get in trouble while hiking because we are either hiking in the dark or hiking out in the dark. So you always have to bring a head lamp and spare batteries. And if you’re going in for a sunrise or sunset hike, my recommendation is that you go hike the trail in daylight first. And a quick note that red light does not pair well with blue markers. So if the trail has blue markers, make sure you have white light so that you can see that properly.
The next thing is sun protection, then first aid kit. Funny enough, if you have a dog, did you know there’s dog first aid kits and dog first aid courses as well? So that’s something to note if you’re a dog owner, especially if you’ve got one in the last two years like most of us did with all our beautiful pandemic puppies. Next is a knife or repair kit.
Then fire, like waterproof matches, shelter like an emergency bivy or a tarp, extra food, extra water and extra clothes. And you’re going to think this is a lot. But in quite honesty, I could pack this into ten litres or less within my bag. So it’s not as much as you think, but it does come in handy. In the last 20 years, I think I’ve used everything on this list at least once for myself or others.
Now the four things that I would add to this list for Ontario specifically (next slide) would be bear spray. We do have our beautiful black bears in this area. We do have sightings of different large animals and coyotes and everything else. So in Ontario, bear spray is a registered item. So you could go to SAIL or MEC or Bushtukah or any of the outdoor stores and sign for bear spray yourself using your driver’s license or another piece of ID. You have to know how to use it properly. I was fearful. I did have someone, bless their heart, ask me once if they sprayed it on themselves like bug spray. And that was an honest-to-goodness question. No, you do not.
So my first recommendation is bear spray. But you please go onto the provincial Ontario website and you can have the links on how to react properly to bears and how to use bear spray. The next thing is a bug shirt because, oh my heart, we have all the bugs here in Ontario! And please consider that all trails will have ticks. It’s just the way it is nowadays and we have to adapt for it. So that means wearing your socks over your pants even if it doesn’t look cool. Using DEET or permethrin clothing. And bug netting is a blessing in those months where we have the flies and mosquitoes and then maybe flies again in August.
Cell phone apps: here’s a neat thing about cell phone apps, especially for in the city. I don’t recommend it for the counties, but in the city where you’re going to use your cell phone, please consider downloading what3words. what3words is an application on your phone that you could use in an emergency that the OPP use to identify where you are within 10 metres. So kindly consider using that application.
And poles. Poles are my friends. People think it looks nerdy. I’m a big fan of using hiking poles, especially during mud season, deep winter seasons and steep descents. It’ll save your knees and your balance and it will save you from getting into trouble while hiking. Next slide.
So this here is a picture from Manitou Mountain in Calabogie. Now we know Calabogie mostly because of Eagle’s Nest. Everybody goes out and they hike Eagle’s Nest, which is slowly getting overrun. On the other side of the mountain, however, there’s over 9 km of trails and I think five lookouts. This is one of the lookouts, I believe this is Manitou Mountain lookout, that you could explore. Now, you have to be careful on these trails because even though they’re well marked, it’s easy to get turned around. But that rugged trail on Manitou Mountain is as challenging... For those folks who love Gatineau Park, I would say that side of the mountain of Manitou Mountain is a good equivalent to both trails, if not more challenging, if that’s what you’re looking for. Okay? There’s also some other great areas in Calabogie like Wabun Lake lookout, which is an 18 km loop. There’s Jamieson, there’s Griffith Uplands, which is 10 km with elevation.
There’s Dacre Heights, which is an old ski lift that you can actually hike up in the winter and then ski down if you want to. It is private property that’s open to the public, so that’s a lot of fun. And a few other things. So don’t get stuck on the same trails. Feel free to explore a little as long as you keep the 10 Essentials in mind. Next slide.
Leave No Trace! So I’m officially, as GirlGoneGood, partnered with Leave No Trace Canada. Very proud to have had that done in the last few months with them. Of course, we all want to follow the seven Leave No Trace principles, so I’m just going to go through them quickly because you could go to leavenotracecanada.ca and look it up yourself and they have wonderful explanations on it. I’m just going to give my little tip with each of them as we go along.
So the first one is plan ahead and prepare. I would say that plan ahead and prepare, in today’s day and age (especially good example is the storm we just had!) would include going directly to the trail manager’s website to see the status or any updates on that particular trail.
Now what is a trail manager? Because that gets asked as well. It is either someone who maintains the trail or someone who owns the property. Usually they do both. So that could be a land trust, it could be the City of Ottawa, it could be the NCC or conservation authority. Or it could be like Dacre Heights where it’s private land open to the public. But make sure to look up that trail. Don’t just rely on AllTrails but go directly to the trail manager to get the right information.
Next is travel and camp on hard surfaces. This point, especially for Ontario, the only point I have here is to really watch for spring roads, the dirt roads, especially in Renfrew County, Frontenac, any of those just outside Ottawa counties. If you have a forest road or dirt road going into the trailhead, those are sometimes too soft for vehicles in the early spring.
Dispose of waste properly. If anybody is on social media, on Facebook or Instagram, you can find me @girlgonegood. It’s at the end of this presentation and you go out on the trail and pick up trash! It’s called plogging. We’re making it trendy again. If you go out and pick up trash on the trail, please take a picture and tag me in it because I would love to see that. We have been growing in our outdoor community and making plogging trendy and picking up trash as we go. So my habit is to, if it’s an out and back trail, I will hike to the furthest point and then on my way back I always carry garbage bags or small bags with me and I pick up as I come back. That would be a wonderful thing and I would love to see it.
Next is leave what you find. So everyone loves foraging and discovering different mushrooms and plant types. And I would say, how about we leave nature for nature? And there are several different ecological reasons why to leave nature as is. You could actually go ahead to the next slide. Sorry.
But if you are curious about that nature, why not download an app like iNaturalist and play a game of identification along the trail and take note of... Foraging could get you in a lot of trouble really quickly. It’s not permitted on the conservation areas and you have to learn how to ask the right questions. Like, do you know how to forage properly? Can I forage on this property? How much of this plant can I forage? There’s so many questions. You actually have to know how to do it properly before moving ahead with it.
Minimize campfire impacts. This has been surprising this year! I have actually run into live fires while hiking on whether it’s Crown land or public land that also has camping sites. I’ve run into two live fires already this year, which is a little disheartening. And then what I’ve also found, unfortunately, is a lot of small fires that have not been dissipated properly. And I don’t know if that’s for the Instagram effect or if we’re just trying to, you know, go out and find our own peace in nature. However, please look on the Leave No Trace Canada website on how to actually minimize campfire impacts. And please consider not having a fire and abiding by the trail manager rules in the first place.
The last is: be considerate. Oh, sorry, I’m at respect wildlife. I’m skipping ahead. Respect wildlife. Of course, a good rule of thumb is to stay at a distance that you could cover the wildlife with your thumb. So keep the distance away. Have your hand in front of you with your thumb out front. And if you could cover the animal with the top of your thumb, then that is a safe distance or considered a safe, respectable distance to be away from that animal.
And the last one is: be considerate of others. Now, this one here, I want to particularly point on sharing viewpoints. I know we all like to take pictures at the viewing points, but we need to share these points. These open areas are for all of us. Another one would be to consider not having music on the trails. This impacts the experience of others and wildlife. And third, that people, we just don’t think of, and that’s fair, is in the more rugged areas where there’s a lot of rock face and you end up on this beautiful vista with cliffs below… do not throw anything, any rocks or kick anything over the cliffs. This is a huge safety factor and it’s actually been addressed at Eagle’s Nest because there are in all seasons climbers below and hikers below. And this creates a huge safety risk for those hikers and climbers.
Yeah. So that would be that. If you have any questions on Leave No Trace, please go visit their website below. Next slide.
Okay. This is perhaps my favourite part: hiker safety! Because I’ve had these questions over the last two years. So particularly, we’re interested in safe solo hiking, hiking with kids and hiking with dogs. Let me just switch gears here. Hold on a second. All right. Hiking solo. And I’ll give you an example of why this is important. I have had only one instance of trouble on the trails in 20 years in the Ottawa region, and it was two years ago and it was on a City of Ottawa trail. And I was followed onto the trail by a large male who approached me inappropriately. And we handled the… the situation was handled.
So I want to share some safe solo hiking tips so that you know what to do when you are uncomfortable on the trail. Okay? First is to always let someone know where you’re going, the route that you’re taking on that trail, and what time you think you’ll be back at. So I’m a good daughter, I text my mom, although maybe she finds it’s a little too much now with the amount that I hike, but I text her when I go out hiking and I say: I’m going on this trail, I’m following it clockwise. I should be back by this time. And then when I’m off the trail, I text her again. Also for reference, I’m 43 years old and I still text my mom for safety. I think it’s okay no matter what age you are.
If you’re going by yourself, choose a more popular trail, hike in groups or bring your dog. If someone is… If you get a bad gut feeling and someone is making you feel off on the trail, try to catch up to the people in front of you on the trail. Have your cell phone on you if there’s cell reception and call someone. Always consider an emergency spotter if there’s no cell reception, never disclose that you are alone. Always make up a great story. “Oh! My friend Rebecca is just up ahead. Hold on, I gotta run and catch up with her.” “Oh, I’m late to meet the gang in 5 minutes at this lookout. I’ll see them there.” Get really good with your fake friends! You know, we have imaginary friends as kids, we could have them as adults too for our own safety, sometimes.
Consider wearing a whistle on your person. Don’t hike with two earphones in. Don’t wander off the trail. Consider carrying bear spray for bears. If your gut tells you something is off, leave the trail. Go back the way you came or finish the trail quickly. Never post on social media where you are going or where you are until you’re off the trail. And then back at your… Or until you’re back at your car and left the location. And the last one is what I’ve already told you, is to consider downloading what3words app on your phone for emergencies.
Hiking with kids! So funny enough, last year we did have a situation where a lovely little girl, a preteen, got lost in the woods in Ottawa. And OPS contacted me and said, “Hey, what tips can you give us for parents and guardians to teach kids for safe hiking?” Great question. Let me go through them. And to be mindful, this was just in Kanata woods. It wasn’t out in the robust. So, it’s easy to get turned around. And we do have significant green space in Ottawa itself, so it is good to consider. I also like saying that even though we’re hiking with kids, the kids still need to be taught on emergency procedures because what if something happens to us?
What if we get an allergic reaction or have a heart attack or something happens to us? Our kids need to know what to do. So consider teaching children to carry the minimum emergency gear and know how and when to use. To always stay on the trail. How and when to use an emergency whistle. I know it’s scary giving a kid a whistle because they’re going to whistle it all the way down the trail! But just like calling 9-1-1, we’re going to teach them in the same fashion how to use a whistle and when to use it.
In that note, tell them when it’s okay to call 9-1-1 and that it is okay to call 9-1-1 when lost. Amazingly, some kids are apprehensive when they’re lost to call 9-1-1 or to engage a stranger and call out for help because we usually teach them otherwise. So be very clear in what case, if they are lost, it is okay to do these things. Teach them how to send a Google Map pin to a parent or the 9-1-1 operator. So teach them how to access Google Maps on your phone and create a pin. You could actually look it up on YouTube and teach yourself and the kids at the same time.
Teach them how to look for significant features. So you’re hiking along, okay, what three significant features do you see? Well, I see that the sun is ahead of me. I see a really big tree behind me. I could hear traffic to my left. You’re going to have to teach them how to identify these things so that they could articulate and help the operators locate them.
How to react safely to wildlife. Because we do have bears and coyotes and deer in the area. The dangers of seemingly safe waterways. This is important. I think we underestimate, a lot of the time, the current and the tow. Just the other day we had a kayaker in distress in Pakenham who misjudged the rapids there. Right? We have more of an undertow in our waterways than we anticipate. To always stay in sight of an adult while they’re hiking, to only hike with a buddy if they’re older kids, to stick to the planned trail and route. And that, as always, it’s okay to call it for help in an emergency.
So those are the considerations for kids. It does happen, unfortunately, that they get turned around and it’s a very scary situation with them. So consider going through these things just like you would for a personal house fire drill. Right?
Now, hiking with dogs. My goodness, do we ever have a love for dogs in the last two years! And with that has been bridging that gap of how to hike with dogs in a safe and responsible and respectful manner with everyone’s need to get outdoors. So here are my hiking with dog tips. Consider and check ahead of time. If the trail is no dogs, on leash or off leash permitted, this is important. Carry a large Ziploc bag or a plastic jar to store your poop bags in. A lot of people, and we see an abundance of... either toilet paper and dog poop bags seem to be the worst offenders on our local trails. Now I understand. I get it. Carrying a dog poop bag isn’t the greatest. Or maybe you could pick it up later or I’ll grab it on the return trip. Or there seems to be this funny habit of hanging them in the tree.
And for the love of me, I don’t know what that is. Maybe someone could explain it to me later. However, if you bring a Ziploc bag or a jar, stick it in that! You can either carry it or put it in your bag and there won’t be any spills. Saves everything. Don’t allow your dog to engage with strangers, full stop, unless the stranger gives explicit permission. Now this goes both ways. People shouldn’t just come up and pet your dog either. To be fair.
Reasons to keep dogs on leashes include respecting the trail designation and guidelines by keeping them on a leash. You’re saying that you respect the land and the trail manager’s decision on how that trail is managed. You have to consider folks with trauma, allergies and other negative experiences with dogs. They may be hiking a trail, an on-leash dog trail, or no dogs allowed trail because they have trauma or allergies or other reactions to dogs, and that is within their right. So we have to be respectful of that trail designation and that other person. As well as the negative impact on flora and fauna.
We think that dog poop is no big deal but the reality is that there’s bacteria and parasites in dog poop that isn’t naturally found in our wildlife, and we have a lot of ground-nesting birds and other flora that is sensitive to that.
As well as the welfare of your dog. We all know the porcupines over in Pine Grove. They like to come out, and we just want to make sure that our pups are safe as well. And then it’s just like the well-being and experience of others. So when you’re hiking with your dog, your checklist could be water and a packable water container, extra food and treats, dog poop bags, maybe a Ziploc or a jar, a dog first aid kit and fabric stretcher for big hikes. Those are actually available online. And a soft boot brush to wipe their paws after the hike so that you could stop the spread of invasive species.
All right, so those are my tips for those three big areas. We could go ahead to the next slide. This is the lookout at Mont Morissette. It’s a beautiful trail with 360 views. I just want to give an example of what the Outaouais region looks like in the fall, which, of course, is gorgeous. This is a good example of sharing the lookout because it’s a wooden tower and everyone goes up. Well, not everybody. There’s… It’s well enjoyed by photographers and other people to achieve this view. So to be respectful, you take your time, you take your pictures, and then you leave. Next slide.
All right, so GirlGoneGood. I am trying to lead with purpose. I would like to share my mission and ethos with you because I think leading by our values is important as a business and community. Our mission is to promote the prioritization of wellness while exploring nature for all persons through safe and responsible recreation. I do have a #goodhumanrevolution initiative where I encourage trail managers and financially contribute to inclusive changes. Our ethos is we are guests in nature. Let us care for and protect her as nature’s health and our own are connected, which I think we’ve realized in the last few years. We are guests on Indigenous lands. Let us seek to understand, respect, and actively advocate. We are guests of land and trail managers. Let us abide by their guidelines and rules. Thank you. Next slide.
So right now I am partnered with these wonderful people, YETI, we have a new headquarters in Canada. So we do have YETI Canada, which is exciting news. And they do have some upcoming initiatives that impact our community and nature, which is fun and will come as the year progresses. Leave No Trace Canada has an abundance of resources on their website. I implore you to go check them out. And #NatureForAll. If you haven’t heard from them. They are a wonderful organization. They are a global organization to partner with and access. Their resources online are multilingual resources and they have some of the coolest resources for kids that I’ve seen, like experience different soundscapes from forests all over the world. They have comic books for kids. They have different learning packages for kids and all multilingual. So if you are looking for those types of resources, they are a wonderful place to start. Next slide.
These are my two sponsored charities. So Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust. Their properties are primarily in the Lanark County, but they have diversified and they have purchased some beautiful, or acquired some beautiful property this year. You will probably know them from the Mill of Kintail. It’s a very popular hiking trail just here near Almonte.
And then Boots on the Ground is a 24/7 peer-to-peer support for Ontario EMS. They are wonderful and I like them because their peer support is... They go through training. So they actually have expertise and training and oversight to give peer-to-peer support for Ontario EMS. I have to say within two years we’ve been able to donate over $25,000 to both these charities or between these charities, which is pretty impressive for a two-year effort. And it’s all because of our engaging community. So I do that through the sale of my hiking book. I have a book. It’s called A Guide to Hiking Trails in Ottawa + Region. It has 196 trail and trail systems listed along with the information. It’s divided by county. It also gives you that city, region or county insights. It lists off the public beaches. It tells you if the trail is dog friendly or not. It has challenges and safe hiking tips and responsible recreation insights. I’m currently on the third edition. You could get it on my website. It is $20 and this is how I donate to mental health and conservation is by donating 100% of those net proceeds. Next slide.
So here are the hiking resources that you can find on my website, as well as some additional websites listed below for you to check out. For anyone who is on Facebook, we have a very active Facebook group community. It’s Ottawa Area Hikers + Adventurers, and everyone just shares their hikes and their trails and the current status. And it’s wonderful and they’re very engaging and we have some photographers in there as well. So that’s a great Facebook group to be a part of. You can also find me on Instagram and if you need recommendations for group hikes or other resources, the Ottawa outdoor community is wonderful and lovely and we leverage each other. So just send me a message and I will share that community with you. That’s all I have for today, I think.
Thank you, Vickie, for this lovely presentation. Well, now it’s time to ask Vickie some questions. So if anybody has any questions for Vickie, just raise your hand. You just go at the bottom and you... Or you can wave at me. I’ll be more than happy to go to you. You can unmute yourself. You cannot unmute yourself, but I will ask you to unmute and you can go ahead and ask your question. So we’ll start with Janet. Janet, I’ll ask you to unmute and you can go ahead.
Yeah, thanks. I just wanted to say that the Mill of Kintail is the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority, not the Land Trust. So I think you said it was run by…
Sorry! This is what happens, Janet, when I have too many trails in my head. What I was thinking in my mind was High Lonesome. What I said was the Mill of Kintail, which I was just at yesterday. So you’re absolutely right. And thank you for that.
All right. Thanks.
And I should have introduced Stéphane, who has been handling the logistics of tonight’s event beautifully. Thank you, Stéphane for your support. It’s invaluable to us. And yes, Stéphane will be helping us moderate this question and answer session as he said. So anyone else who has a question for Vickie, please go ahead and raise your virtual hand. Or if you want to just turn on your camera and wave at the screen, that’ll work, too. Vickie, I was wondering what YETI is about. You mentioned it was, they have a new branch in Canada and what sort of things do they do?
So YETI is actually a cooler and drinkware company. They are with the outdoor community. They’re very popular in Canada now. They stand by how robust their products are and how they could take a tumble and still survive. So what’s great is the sustainability that they have. And then we’ve had some talks on how we could grow their efforts in Canada. Yeah.
I have to say, Vickie, I have a YETI cooler and I wouldn’t change it for anything, so I would definitely recommend one of those. So, does anyone have any more questions for Vickie? Oh. Katie, I will ask you to unmute yourself and you can ask your question to Vickie.
Okay. Hi. Thank you, Vickie. It was a wonderful presentation, really, really interesting, and got me thinking about safety and, you know, with kids and everything in ways I hadn’t really thought of before. And it was really helpful. And I just wanted to touch on one of the comments you mentioned about how OPS... I think it was OPS, so the OPP had reached out to you when a preteen had gone missing. And there is some sort of unofficial trails in the city’s green space and, you know, they don’t have maps, they don’t have public maps. They don’t have… And residents have made their own trail system network within those screen spaces. And I’m just wondering if you have, like… I don’t know what I’m wondering. How do we bridge that gap between, you know, EMS and these unofficial trail systems? And, you know, should that be on people’s radar on getting that information out there? I don’t know.
Yeah, that’s a great question. So in the case of what happened last year or even the year before, now I’ve got to…
Time all blurred together…
Blurs together in the pandemic, right? So what happened with that one 12 year-old is, I have to say that our operators are phenomenal within the city and they actually talked the child through finding the compass on their iPhone and asking what the child saw and slowly directed the child out of the area. They were able to ping the GPS location. So what I would say for… I know because we all do our homemade routes, especially within the city and some of the smaller city green spaces, I think it would be sharing with the child. Know a feature, just a feature per trail of that undesignated trail. Like know that the entrance is at this park because those trails aren’t very long. So it would be quick to find the child, quickish, if there is at least one feature that they could describe to the operator. And honestly, sending that Google Map pin is super helpful. You’re always going to have reception nowadays. And most kids have cell phones. I don’t know when this happened in life, but it did apparently, that most kids have cell phones. So I would say the significant feature, know how to send the Google Maps pin and just stay calm and where they are.
And I would just add, Vickie, that it is amazing to me whenever I do check Google Maps or other mapping apps and things when you’re in, you know, a little neighbourhood wood lots and there is a well-beaten footpath and most of our neighbourhood woodlots will have a well-beaten footpath through them, guaranteed. It’s amazing to me how many of those completely informal, unofficial, not recognized trails show up. On things like not only Google Maps, but I’m going to out myself here as a little bit of… my one vice in virtual gaming and that sort of thing is playing Pokémon GO.
And I’ll tell you, the trails show up on the maps in Pokémon GO. And all of the landmarks along that trail system will show up as features in the game. So if your kid does like to play Pokémon GO, it can actually help them find their way.
You know, just saying. But yeah, like, Google Maps will also show a lot of these unofficial trails because I think just enough people travel them over time. We know that, you know, IT is watching and it figures out where people are based on their cell phones and it starts to show the trail.
So it’s amazing how many of those trails you actually can see on Google Maps and some of the other programs out there.
I’d also say, like, if you could teach your kid to name those unofficial trails after a significant feature.
So, “Mom, I’m going down the Red Bridge trail. Mom, I’m going on Tall Oak trail.” And then communicate that back. I’m not sure if that answered your question fully, Katie. Hopefully, it helped a little.
Yeah. If you can come up with your own system of reference, that’s great. Yeah.
Thank you, Vickie, for this answer, and Amy, for the great recommendation to play Pokémon GO. So encourage your kids to play this game. Do we have any more questions? Oh! I see Gabriella. Gabriella, I’ll ask you to unmute and please ask your question.
Hi. Hello. I’m sorry, I arrived mid-presentation. I’m new to the area, so I just wanted to ask, and sorry if this was addressed already. Ticks. So are they a concern, especially also with kids? So yes, would you have tips in that direction? That would be great. Thank you so much.
Absolutely. Great question, Gabriella. And yes, yes. They are… I do have on my website a hiking with kids page and also like a free download with all these tips on it as well. But when it comes to ticks, you just have to assume they’re everywhere, even in the parks when you go for a picnic. So we have to get in the habit of after we come back from an outdoor space, checking our bodies, taking a shower, going for a swim. Those will mitigate the factors of the tick latching on. Throwing the clothes in the dryer for 10 minutes is under public health advisory. That’s part of their recommendations after you come back from an outdoor space. But while you are outdoors, especially hiking, you want to avoid the long grass. And that’s part of why I really enjoy the trails that are wide dirt paths or boardwalks in the summer. And the trails that typically have long grass, I’ll go enjoy those in the winter. But if you’re in the long grass area, then it’s the practical socks over your pants, using DEET, buying clothing with permeth… I can never say it. With a special treatment on them.
Yes. Thank you. Even though I’ve had it for years, but I can never say it. Yeah, you just have to constantly check. I even keep a lint roller in the car for after hikes to run along my leggings. And I use DEET from my hips down when I go hiking. And I keep extra shoes, socks, pants in the car to change afterwards. So I only use DEET on the outside of my body, keep my socks over my pants and then change when I get back to the vehicle and check.
All good tips, Vickie. And, you know, if anyone has any other questions about, you know, Lyme disease particularly and that sort of thing, Ottawa Public Health has some excellent information on their webpages about ticks, West Nile from mosquitoes and all sorts of other, you know, potential risks and things to be aware of when you’re outdoors. And that goes from, you know, making sure you’ve got your sunscreen on, all the way through.
So, you know, they even have some winter hiking safety tips as well. And so I would encourage people to check out Vickie’s tips at GirlGoneGood. And then if you want some more health-related details, go to Ottawa Public Health as well and check that out. And as Vickie said, assume that there’s a potential of ticks out there. And it’s not only in the spring and summer and fall. Any time the temperature is above zero degrees, there’s a risk that there could be some ticks active. They are that tough. The risk is obviously much lower in winter. But if you do get one of those warm thaw days and you get tempted to go out for a hike, be aware and just be conscious of that and do your tick checks and use your lint roller. It’s a great tip. I love that idea that you can just, you know, use that lint roller, especially for the small immature ticks. It’s really good for getting the small ones off. Katie! Looks like Katie’s back again.
Thanks, Katie. I’ll ask you to unmute again.
Awesome. Thank you. I’m back again. Vickie, I just had a couple more personal questions, if you don’t mind. One is how did you get started or interested in hiking in the first place? And the second question is, do you have any trails sort of left on your bucket list that you haven’t explored yet in the Ottawa area? And if so, which ones would they be?
Yeah. So let’s start with the second question first. Out of the 196 that I have in that current hiking book, I’ve hiked just over 100 myself. So that other 90 is my bucket list for the area. I can’t say that… You know what, I just love them all! I even love the boring ones that are flat and 1 km—boring! I’ll find something to be curious about on them. So I can’t pick a favourite. And how I got into this? Well, I’m born and raised here and I’m forever wandering and it used to be a thing with my mom, we still do it, where she’ll say, “Hey, do you want coffee?” And I know to pack snacks and water and maybe my passport because we’re going to go wander for 8 to 10 hours. And if there’s a road we don’t know, we’ll go down it. And that’s how I started discovering. I was always… I always loved the outdoors and I’d hike when I travelled. But that’s how I started discovering the trails around here.
Thank you, Katie.
And that was before cell phones, so…
Do we have any more questions for Vickie? So, Vickie, I just want to, while we’re waiting and if people think about a question, do you want to repeat your website? Just if people want to go to the information?
For sure. It’s GirlGoneGood, three Gs, girlgonegood.com. And I’m also on Instagram and Facebook under the same name, just @GirlGoneGood. And we also have that really great engaging group on Facebook, the Ottawa Area Hikers + Adventurers. You can find it.
And the city also has a web page with some of our many natural areas highlighted. If you go to Ottawa.ca and search for conservation areas, it should pop right up. And you’ll see, as I said, a selection of, you know, some of our areas. It’s just City-owned ones. We let the NCC advertise their own. They do a great job of putting information about their trails on their website. And they have some phenomenal trails, obviously. But we like to think we have a few good ones ourselves. And we’re especially appreciative of our community partners who help us maintain and manage those trails. In some cases, it may be the Conservation Authority, like Morris Island, for example, which is managed for us by the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority, or the trails in the Carp Hills, which are ably managed and loved by our friends of the Carp Hills under a stewardship agreement with us. And, of course, then there’s the South March Highlands, which is renowned for its biking and hiking and is managed for us by the Ottawa Mountain Bike Association. And, you know, we certainly couldn’t do it without the support of those partners, you know, as we’ve just found out with the unfortunate event, the storm on May 21st, our operational staff are running off their feet right now, trying to clean up after that still.
And I’m afraid it’s going to be some time before they’re able to turn their attention to trees. That may be posing a bit of a hazard on some of those trail systems. So, you know, they have so many other things that they need to take care of first that we would just advise that in the interim, you do take a little extra care when you’re going into the woods. To watch out for any trees overhanging the trail, any damaged limbs and things that may pose a threat, and if you want to report those to 3-1-1, you certainly can, and we would encourage you to do that. But as I say, it may take us some time before our staff can get out there because of all of the work that has to be done in terms of getting people’s private property made safe and repairing the utilities and keeping the roads open and all that sort of thing. So, yeah, we have, in fact, added a warning to the top of that conservation areas page to highlight that little issue. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get around to everything in good time. But, we do, as I say, we still do encourage people to get out there and enjoy the natural areas, but do so in a safe and responsible way.
Okay! There it is, at 8:01. I don’t see any other questions. So I think we’ll say thank you very much to Vickie for being with us tonight. Thank all of you for staying in and sharing your time with us. We appreciate you as an audience. And anyone who did come in partway through or may have missed the presentation entirely tonight will be able to catch up when we get it posted to the YouTube channel. As we said, the entire session has been recorded, so you’ll be able to catch anything that you missed and it will be available as soon as we can get it edited and get the transcripts done. So thank you all very much. Thank you, Stéphane, for your support tonight. And have a good evening, everyone.
Have a good evening, everyone. Thank you, Amy.
Good to see you all.
Thank you. Good night.
Wild, Wild Waste! Keeping your trash out of the wrong paws
Date and time
Join us online for this Zoom Meeting.
Meeting ID: 892 1401 3603
Speakers: Ian Ferguson and Nick Stow, City of Ottawa
Opening remarks by Councillor Scott Moffatt, Chair of the Standing Committee on Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management.
In honour of Waste Reduction Week, the Wildlife Speaker Series is talking trash! Garbage, compost and recycling are a common cause of conflict with wildlife, and a serious environmental issue. Food waste and packaging attract unwanted attention from all kinds of wildlife, including yellow jackets, gulls, raccoons (“trash pandas”) and even black bears. Plastic waste and litter are polluting the environment. Waste management is an essential municipal service, and we need your help to keep it running smoothly. The City of Ottawa is developing a new Solid Waste Master Plan and residents are encouraged to participate in that process. In the meantime, our experts would like to share their thoughts on waste management and wildlife. We hope you can join us!
Ian Ferguson is the Manager, Waste Processing & Disposal, within the City of Ottawa’s Public Works and Environmental Services Department. Early on in his career, he spent 13 years working at a mushroom farm producing the compost used to grow the mushrooms. From there, Ian entered into the waste industry in 2003. He held many different jobs across three companies in the private sector until joining the City’s Solid Waste Services Team in 2012. Prior to taking on his current role at the Trail Road landfill site, Ian managed the City’s in-house Waste Collection Operations branch for nine years. Over the years, living and working in the country, he has had many encounters with wildlife, including one with a stray peacock during his days as a waste collection operator!
Nick Stow is the Senior Planner, Natural Systems and Rural Affairs, within the City of Ottawa’s Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development Department. Nick obtained a Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of Ottawa in 2005, having completed a thesis on the impacts of selection-cutting on northern hardwood forests. He is a Certified Environmental Practitioner, with a specialization in Conservation Biology. He provides advice to City management and Council on all matters related to the protection, sustainable management and enhancement of the City's natural heritage system: its network of urban and rural forests, wetlands, grasslands and other natural features. He coordinates and manages multi-disciplinary, subwatershed-based, land use planning studies, as well as a wide range of other ecological and environmental projects and studies. Nick led the development of the City’s Wildlife Strategy in 2013, which included the establishment of the Wildlife Speaker Series.
Thank you, Amy, and good evening, everyone. I thank you for joining us during Waste Reduction Week in Canada, which is October 18th to October 24th. A week dedicated to promoting innovative waste reduction strategies across the country. This year's Waste Reduction Week theme is Then – Now – Future, which is quite fitting since the City of Ottawa is developing its Solid Waste Master Plan between now and 2046. Ottawa's population will increase by an estimated 400,000 people. If we keep doing what we're doing now. Our landfill site could reach capacity as early as 2036. The Solid Waste Master Plan will guide how we manage solid waste over the next 30 years. It will ensure that waste is managed in a more sustainable way. It will give our residents options that they need to help us reduce waste. And of course, the best way to reduce waste is to avoid creating it. The City of Ottawa will continue to encourage residents to refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle whenever they can. This can be as easy as refusing by buying less. By not buying items with excessive non-recyclable packaging, reducing by purchasing quality products that will last longer as opposed to items with shorter lifespans. Reusing by shopping at secondhand stores or giving away gently used items for others to reuse. Obviously, we know that the swap and sell and the buy nothing sites on Facebook are quite popular for that reason.
Repurposing by getting creative, using empty glass mason jars as vases, for example, or turning old clothes into household rags. I think my entire cupboard for glasses is only mason jars. They're usually half-filled with water into my daughter's room. You can also. We also encourage you to recycle by participating in the city's recycling and composting programs to help divert waste from the landfill. Disposing of your waste properly in the right bins is a very simple step that you can take to ensure that we make a big difference for the environment. You can help reduce conflicts with environment, with the wildlife as well, both at home and across the city. As you will learn in today's presentation from our staff experts on wildlife and waste management. Using your black, blue and green bin properly helps protect wildlife and keeps your community safe. Thank you for taking the time to be here this evening, to learn more about waste and wildlife. I encourage you to get involved and have your say in the Solid Waste Master Plan as well by visiting Engage Ottawa website to stay informed on upcoming consultations and to see results from past engagement sessions. Thank you very much. Enjoy.
Thank you, Chair. And without further ado, I'd like to ask our staff to put the presentation on the screen, and we'll turn it over to Ian Ferguson from Waste Management. Take it away, Ian. Just a quick reminder first on the Zoom protocol for raising your hand on the opening slide here. And remember again, if you don't want to be seen in the YouTube video, please keep your camera off. Thank you and enjoy the presentation.
Thank you, Amy, and thank you, everyone, for attending tonight's session. As Amy mentioned, my name is Ian Ferguson. I am the acting manager of waste processing and disposables with the City's Public Works and Environmental Services Department. I’m very happy to have this opportunity to talk about ways to protect your waste from wildlife and vice versa. With that being said, let's start with the presentation. Let's start with organic waste. There are many ways to deter pests and animals from getting into your green bins. Like this raccoon pictured here, but also chipmunks, squirrels, foxes, skunks or even domestic animals like cats and dogs. Basically, animals regard your waste as a food source. So really, it's about keeping the smell down in your containers. If you recall, in 2019, we made some changes to our green bin program to allow plastic bags as a bagging option. These changes were made to reduce the yuck factor and help with pest management, which we heard was a top barrier from residents as to why they weren't using the program. As a result, you can now use plastic bags to wrap your food waste. Most people have that kitchen catcher container on their counter or under their sink in the kitchen. It's a great place to put your food scraps while you're cooking. Milk or bread bags, or even plastic bags from grocery stores, make great bin liners.
Once that bin is full, tie it in a tight knot. It really helps to keep the odour down in your bin. I'm a huge fan of this. We have four children here at home, so you can imagine the food scraps that we generate. Since I've been doing this, very rarely do I have any critters getting into my green bins. And I also live in the country. Another good strategy, if you're able to, is freezing meat, bones and fish until the collection date. I know people often have an extra fridge or freezer, and if you're able to do this, it helps a lot. Grease and oil can be put into paper cups for milk cartons before they go into the bin. And in between collections, if you can, you may want to hose down your bin and use a mild detergent. Keeping your bins clean keeps the odours down. Another option that you could use is to line your green bin with a paper or a plastic bag. Those leaf and yard waste paper bags make a great ventilator and help keep your bin clean as well. If you have a garage, keep your bins in the garage until collection day. Not everybody has this luxury, but if you do, it will make a big difference.
If you don't, you could always secure your bin lid with a bungee cord. But before you place it out your curb, please remove the cord. This can pose a health and safety risk for the waste collection operators. And it might delay your collection. As a reminder, dog waste and sealed plastic bags can also be placed in the green bin. Next slide, please. We'll talk about the blue bin a bit. There are measures you can take so that animals don't make a mess with your recycling. These same measures also help protect the wildlife from eating plastic or getting trapped in different containers. Obviously, when we were talking about reducing the smell, you want to rinse your containers well. So nothing appealing is left in them. If you can't get everything out, like with a peanut butter jar or mayonnaise container, make sure you leave the lid on it. These types of things really attract wildlife to your recycling bins, and there's, you know, potential of an animal getting their head stuck in the jar when they're trying to get the food out of it. Like the green bin, it's best to keep your blue box in your garage until collection day, if you can. If that's not possible, you can always try and cover your blue box with a piece of plywood with a brick on top of it.
It really helps. For collection, the night prior to collection. If you can, leave it in your garage, leave it beside your house with the piece of plywood on top until the morning of collection. That'll help. Hopefully there won't be a big mess on your lawn in the next morning. Next slide, please. Keeping wildlife like our furry feathered friend here in this picture out of your garbage is easy. Use your green bin. Without organic content in your residual waste, it won't be very interesting for wildlife to be looking for food. Since you may still have a few smelly things in the container like cheese wrappers, for example. Try and purchase a bin that the lid closed properly. Animals obviously get into these garbage cans by tipping them over and knocking open the lids. As I mentioned previously, if you don't have a garage to store your containers, use a bungee cord. People in the country sometimes build a big wooden garbage box that houses all of their containers until collection day. Again, remove the bungee cord and take the bins out of the box. It poses a risk for the health and the health and safety concerns for our waste collection operators. Next slide, please.
Seagulls are very interested in garbage, and they're particularly interested in the landfill at our Trail Road waste facility. We have a Raptor program in place to deter seagulls. It's a pest and disease control measures, stopping gulls from spreading garbage everywhere. This picture that you see on the screen shows a handler with a falcon named Lucy. Lucy is on duty at the landfill pretty much every day. And as soon as she shows up in the morning, you don't see a seagull in sight. It's really amazing to see. The Raptor program wouldn't be necessary if there weren't any organic waste in our landfill. But that's not the only good reason to use your green bin. It really helps the environment. How, you might ask? Keeping organics out of the landfill. Not only extends the life of the landfill, it also helps fight climate change. Reducing the amount of methane that gets created when organic matter is decomposing in the absence of oxygen. Next slide, please. While the mountain of waste at Trail Road is growing every day, the city is developing a new Solid Waste Master Plan. [Inaudible] this plan in the most sustainable way possible, if you type Ottawa dot CA slash waste plan into your search engine, a URL shortcut will take you straight there. The next round of public consultations is set to start in November. Make sure to join in the conversation and have your say. Thank you. And I'm now pleased to hand it over to my colleague, Nick.
Hello, everyone. My name's Nick Stow. I'm a Senior Planner with the City of Ottawa and the Natural Systems Unit. I'm a planner by title, but a biologist by training. This is going to be a little bit of a different take on waste at the City and impacts on wildlife. First of all, when we talk about the impact of waste on wildlife, we really need to take a step back and talk about consumption. The photo in this slide is from the waste dump in Abu Dhabi. About 15 years ago, as a consultant, I carried out a biological inventory of this area in preparation for construction of a proper landfill. At the time, they were basically dumping the garbage in the desert. And you can see, it would catch fire and smoke and smoulder for quite a while. The project actually never went ahead. To the best of my knowledge, they're still dumping garbage in the desert. I think that's in part because of the attitudes of the local people toward the desert, which they just see basically as empty space. The use of space for waste disposal is a form of consumption, so we consume land for garbage. We consume the capacity of the atmosphere and the ocean to absorb carbon dioxide. We consume the capacity of lakes and rivers to absorb nitrogen and phosphorus.
This is part of what is called our ecological footprint. The area of the Earth's surface that is needed to support humans. And some people have calculated that ecological footprint currently as about 1.7 times the total area of the Earth. Now, if that sounds counterintuitive, think about your own budget. You can live beyond your income for a short time, if you use credit. But someday, you will run out of credit. It's the same for consumption. We are using resources faster than they are being replenished. When we talk about waste and the impact of waste on wildlife, the first and most important step that we can take is to reduce our consumption. Reduce consumption and we reduce waste. This is an individual decision. This is one area where individual decisions and make a difference. We got into our current problems through the cumulative effect of small decisions, and that's how we're going to have to get out of it. Through the same small decisions through our personal choices, whether as citizens and political actors or as consumers. Next slide, please. Let's talk about some individual actions and their impacts on wildlife. I'm going to expand our common definition of wildlife to include all natural living things, not only animals. The easiest change that we can make, as Ian's been talking about, is how we dispose of waste. One of the things many people will be aware of, I certainly am, because it's part of my job to be is that almost every natural area in the City contains garbage.
On the screen here you can see a pile of garbage in Panmure Alvar. This is a kind of a specialized habitat area. It's out in the rural area of the City. There's another pile of garbage in the Chapman Mills woodlot right in the urban area. We can find illegal dumps, fridges, and stoves in the Marlborough Forest. And just simple, small blue bags of dog poop hanging from trees along our urban trails. This garbage can sometimes include, at least in my definition, things that we might not consider at first to be garbage, such as yard waste or live fishing bait. Next slide, please. Sometimes people dump what I would call waste, even with the best of intentions. Although they call it feeding wildlife. Unfortunately, people still do feed coyotes, for example, in Ottawa. They will actually put out waste food or even things like dog food for coyotes to feed on. That almost always ends badly for the animals, and it can create indirect effects that we may not really be aware of. Coyotes are a good example. When we feed coyotes, they lose their fear of humans. At that point, once they've lost their fear of humans, their fate is pretty much sealed. If they don't get hit by a car, then they're likely to become a nuisance or a genuine public threat and be trapped or shot.
People also feed deer. They'll put out bags of apples or table scraps or whatever for deer. Well, deer are the final host for black-legged ticks, which carry Lyme disease. Those ticks need a final blood meal from a deer for reproduction. When you feed deer, you're probably increasing the chance of being bitten by a Lyme infected tick within your local area because you're bringing that host for the tick into your local area. One of the most pernicious problems in our urban area, one of the really tough ones to deal with is the dumping of yard waste. You can see here on the in the slide, on the right. That's yard waste dumped into one of our urban natural areas. This occurs everywhere in the city, and it is one of the main mechanisms for the introduction of invasive species like periwinkle, Japanese knotweed, alder buckthorn. This is how those invasive species, one of the main ways those invasive species, get into our urban natural areas and displace our natural species, which in turn the loss of those may affect things like biodiversity pollinators. Similarly, the dumping of live bait can impact our natural areas. Invasive earthworms. People use earthworms for bait. I admit I did this when I was a kid. When you've finished fishing for the day, you take your leftover worms and you dump them in the woods behind your house.
Well, those invasive earthworms, they're not native to forests. They get in there and they change the way that the recycling occurs. They affect the whole biodiversity of the area. Dumping of live fish like the round goby can also move those invasive species from waterbody to waterbody, watershed to watershed, and cause incredible impacts on our aquatic ecosystems. Next slide. Second area where we can really exercise some personal choice is in the disposal of our subscriptions, our medications and our personal care products. I once as a consultant again, I once worked on a project where we were trying to assess how much waste was leaking from poorly maintained septic systems. And we used caffeine as a tracer because caffeine doesn't occur in the natural in the environment. Naturally, it only comes from sources. Basically, we pee out caffeine. It can be then traced through ground and surface water and can be used to estimate how much septic tanks are leaking. Just as the caffeine enters the water, so do the prescriptions that we use. So do the chemicals in our shampoos or skin care products, our makeup or sunscreens. Many of these chemicals are very powerful chemicals. They actually can occur in concentrations in the natural environment that can affect aquatic organisms.
You'll hear stories about how fish or aquatic organisms or frogs are found with deformities. While some of these chemicals are related to hormones, which can affect growth and reproduction. We don't want to stop taking our medications, obviously. But I wonder how many of us have flushed an old medication down the toilet rather than try and actually figure out how it should be disposed properly. By the way, the proper way to dispose of medications is to take it to the hazardous waste disposal. We can also be a lot more selective about our choice and use of personal care products. At the very least, we should know what is in the products we use and how they can affect the environment. Sunscreen is a great… Within the last several years, researchers have discovered that sunscreens are having a negative impact on coral reefs. It turns out that the chemicals that are in sunscreens are released when you go swimming and coral reefs are sensitive to those. As people, as ecotourism increases and people are snorkelling and scuba diving on coral reefs, we're actually seeing damage to coral reefs from sunscreen. It's important to know what's in your product products, and it's important to use them as intended, not overuse them, use them when you should be. Next slide, please. This is a big topic these days, microplastics. We can really make an individual difference in our use of plastics.
The photo in this slide is of a microscopic organism, an aquatic organism known as a copepod. It is trying to swim through a soup of microplastic fibres. I couldn't get the moving video, but you can actually see the copepods struggling to get through all of these small fibres. Plastics do not decompose in the environment. They're basically gradually broken down into smaller and smaller pieces. They get small enough to be measured in micrometres or even nanometres. So that's one millionth of a meter or one billionth of a meter. This kind of degradation doesn't just occur in nature. It also occurs in our dishwashers and our washing machines. Plastic containers in the dishwasher shed microfibres. Plastic-based clothing like some of our fleece products shed microfibres when we wash them. We know what the impact of plastic bags can be on marine life. We've probably all seen photos or we've heard of sea turtles consuming plastic bags because they look something like a jellyfish. But we're still coming to grips with the possible impacts of microplastics. We just don't know. We know that they are found everywhere. We know that they're found in the food and the water we consume, and that our aquatic organisms and our frogs and our fish are swimming in. And we know that the smallest particles can even pass through cell membranes.
That's pretty shocking. We don't know what the long-term impacts are. I think we can guess that they're unlikely to be benign. What can we do? We can, of course, give up single use plastics, and I think we've seen that we're moving in that direction. There's legislation related to that. When choosing food storage containers, we could look for glass containers or silicone containers instead of plastic containers. If we have plastic containers and I got some up in my kitchen right now, hand wash them, don't run them through the dishwasher. Hand washing causes less wear and tear. It removes fewer microfibres. Choose natural-fibre clothing. I highly recommend that miracle fabric, wool. It will keep you warm when it's wet and cool when it's hot. If you must use fleece, then try and wash it on a gentle cycle. Next slide, please. We sometimes look at the big environmental challenges and we wonder what we can do as individuals. Individually, I have very little control over whether my electricity comes from gas-fired plants, nuclear plants, hydroelectric dams, wind or solar, and that in that respect, I have to exercise my power and influence through the political systems. But when it comes to consumption and waste, I have almost all of that control. And it's my responsibility and I have it in my power to make change. Thank you very much.
Thank you very much, Nick, and thank you, Ian. At this point in the proceedings, we're going to move into the panel discussion. I have a few questions for our experts to begin, and after the panel discussion, we will be moving to ask for questions from our attendees. Again, at that point, we'll be asking you to put up your virtual hand and you will be unmuted when it is your turn to speak and ask your question. But for now, let's get started. We've heard in the presentations tonight about, first of all, things we can all do at home to help keep our garbage safe from wildlife and our wildlife safe from garbage and other waste products. Nick also mentioned some of the more obvious effects of dumping and improperly disposing of garbage and waste into the environment. Nick, I think you began to allude to this with respect to coyotes. Feeding wildlife is actually prohibited in City parks, which I'm not sure whether all residents are aware of. It's prohibited for some of the reasons you mentioned regarding putting food out for wildlife deliberately, but wouldn't carelessly discard of food wastes and other attractants like that in parks also potentially lead to wildlife conflict?
Yes, Amy. Absolutely. I occasionally get called out to do an assessment where we've got an ongoing conflict with coyotes and often what I find in our parks is that has been open food dumped into garbage cans. One of the simplest ways we can prevent conflicts like that is simply to pack up our food waste and take it home with us and dispose of it properly and in the green bin. I'll also add that the green bin is a great way to avoid conflicts as well. If food is not secured in a green bin, if it's put in a garbage can, something that an animal like a coyote can access, then that coyote is going to try to do that. They're omnivores. They will feed on pretty much anything they can find, including food scraps and garbage cans. Putting your food scraps into your green bin instead of your garbage can is another great way to help reduce conflicts with wildlife. We don't want to see those conflicts because they say it never ends well for the animals.
Very true. Certainly your point is well taken about separating out those food wastes. Ian, before we turn the question to you. What if residents are out somewhere where there are no bins or where there isn't the potential to separate into different bins? What do we recommend in those cases?
The obvious responsible choice would be to take your waste home with you and dispose of it properly. But currently, the solid waste department at the City is piloting recycling and organics collection at a small number of parks across the city. Hopefully sometime next year, we should see how that goes and hopefully it expands.
That's excellent. I imagine. Of course, it's very dependent on resources being available for programs like that. So certainly if you're in an area where that program is not being rolled out, then the standby solution is to carry it on home with you. Leave no trace. Many of us probably have had the experience of seeing squirrels diving in the garbage cans in the park, hoping to find those food scraps. It's something that's really not what we want to see with the larger animals and some of the other species that sometimes do that. Obviously, we're all still recovering and making our way through the extremely significant health event, the pandemic. Have we seen significant changes in trends involving waste and in waste management in the City through this pandemic? How has it impacted these things? I've personally noticed a lot more littering of certain types of things. You see disposable masks everywhere these days and in the beginning there were plastic gloves as well being discarded all over the place. Nick, I can't help but think that must be an issue in terms of the environmental concerns you were mentioning.
Any waste of any kind. Masks and gloves, and so on, are not generally edible objects. There's the potential for problems with any waste that we have lying about.
I would imagine the masks could be an entanglement issue as well, in some cases. They're not food waste, they're not as attractive, but there's always the potential for something to get tangled up in them.
Yes, I'm sure that it does. I'm sure that it does happen. Both with small mammals, terrestrial animals and probably also aquatic animals. That's often where we see entanglements. Turtles are particularly prone to getting tangled up in.
A good point. Because everything does get to the ocean. Eventually, before it gets there, it goes through our ponds and streams and rivers. Ian, how about from a solid waste management perspective? What trends have you noticed over the past year and a half to two years?
Oh geez. It's the obvious, right? With more and more people being home and working from home, it's obviously increased waste amount significantly. People are doing more household renovations. Purging, cleaning their garages, cleaning their basements. They're looking for ways to keep themselves busy. Through no fault of their own. It's an obvious increase of items being discarded at the curb every week or every other week. In the case of the garbage collection. It shows how important it is to refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle when we can. I have to get my pitch in for the Waste Collection operators here. They're near and dear to my heart. With the increase of items at the curb, it's increased their workloads significantly. A normal 10-hour day in the first 90 days of the pandemic increased their workdays to 12-13-hour days. These folks obviously didn't have the luxury of working from home like everybody else. When people talk about frontline workers, these guys were true frontline workers. If we're picking up the garbage, we have to take it to the landfill. Those folks at the landfill, equally the same. Their workloads increase significantly. My hat's off to them. It's been a tough goal.
I imagine the people may not have been disposing of things in the usual way. I know we had to defer some of the hazardous waste pickups. Those are back on now, which is great. But perhaps a reminder to folks to always check the City's Waste Explorer tool to help them figure out which items can go where and which items really shouldn't be going out to the curb at all. We do have some diversion programs available. I'm not sure whether the free giveaway weekends we're going on during the pandemic, but hopefully we can get those back online again soon as well to help people swap items around. Now that we know a little bit more about the causes of transmission. One last question before we open it up to the public for their questions. I see we've got one resident at least with his hand up already, and we'll get to you in just a minute, sir. But first, Ian. Inquiring minds want to know. Could you elaborate on that encounter with a peacock that you mentioned in your bio on the city's web page?
That's going back a long time. That happened in my early days when I was an actual Waste Collection Operator and the private sector. I was collecting recycling in a small town. As I was coming down this street. I was about 200 yards away, give or take and I could see this bird sitting on the blue box that I was going to be collecting. As I was getting closer, the bird started to look bigger and bigger. I couldn't really tell at first what it was, so I kind of parked my truck a little bit before the laneway to get out. To walk towards it. Just to gauge how the bird was going to react. Well, it reacted. The tail came open. I don't know if you've ever heard a peacock. They almost yell at you in a really high-pitched noise. It scared me substantially. I got back on my truck, called my supervisor, and I proceeded to drive away as the bird was following me. I had to go to a totally different neighborhood and keep collecting. It was there for the next few weeks. Same bin, same house. Then all of a sudden, one week it wasn't there anymore. That was my interaction with a peacock.
Maybe the household decided they were tired of having their waste not get picked up because of the peacock being territorial about it. I imagine our waste collectors must get to see quite a bit of wildlife on their routes. A peacock is a bit exceptional, though.
It was the one and only for me.
You know, Amy, running into a peacock is never a pheasant experience.
Oh, Nick! Ornithological puns!
Oh dear. All right. I see we do have a couple of hands up right now. I am just being reminded that the last hazardous waste depot of the season is coming up on this Saturday. If you do have any items that should not go out into the regular landfill waste, please bring it to the Westbrook snow dump site. There is obviously much more information available on that on Ottawa.ca. If my colleagues could let us know who's first up and unmute their mic. We'll get to the questions.
Absolutely. So we will start with Ross Thomas.
Hi, there. Mine's not so much a question, but more a comment about the interaction with wildlife. Particularly I'm in a rural setting and one of the big issues for us tends to be people driving by in the evening, going home, having picked up food at one of the fast food places and just tossing it out of the car door or out of the window into the ditches. It certainly attracts the wildlife. It doesn't get rid of the non-disposable components of their meal, but it certainly increases the roadkill issue as well because it draws the animals to the curb side of the road. The other issue that I am also concerned about, as for a number of the residents around here, is that with some of the city's proposal for the waste. Where they're considering issuing charges for waste collection. We’re likely to start seeing more roadside dumping in the farmland, the rural area because it all right already occurs from time to time with people. Well, more frequently than time to time in some areas. With people just dumping mattresses, beds, bits and pieces they don't want on the side of the road on infrequently travelled roadways. That's another issue I think we're concerned about. That also attracts the animals just out of curiosity. The fact that they interact with that material and can get trapped in it, etc. Thank you.
Amy, I'll just comment on the dumping of food waste along roads. It's something that we do see a lot and I agree, Mr. Thomas. It does have very negative effects on wildlife. Not just on terrestrial or ground animals, but it will attract birds. Anything that would feed on that waste. Crows, ravens, even raptors will come down and feed on that kind of waste. They frequently don't get out of the way fast enough when a car does come along and are struck. It's very sad to see. Maybe Ian has something to comment on the waste management program and the bag proposals. I don't know.
No, not necessarily. Unfortunately, these things happen, obviously we'd like to think everybody is responsible for their choices. But it does happen. Like Mr. Thomas says, more so in the country. I live in the country as well. On my drive home from work every day, I tend to see the same things. As for the illegal dumping, we see that as an issue. Usually in any change and collection styles, that's an obvious proponent. When we change to the biweekly garbage collection, we saw a slight increase in illegal dumping. We try. We have Solid Waste Inspectors investigate the incidents. If they find evidence to know who the person is, we try our best to issue fines and citations.
I think even to perhaps the with the upcoming Solid Waste Master Plan consultation include an opportunity for residents to provide comments on the ideas of, you know, tag a bag and paying for removal. I used to live in Osgoode Township prior to the amalgamation and we had a tag a bag program there and it seemed to work quite well. Under that system, everyone had one free bag a week. Beyond that, yes, you had to pay. There were systems set up to keep things affordable. But as you say, Ian, you have to hope that people choose to act responsibly with their trash. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. Could we have the next question, please?
We have Joanna.
Yes, my question has to do with the green bin. I use the paper bin liners, especially now that the climate, the weather is going to start to get cooler and I don't want it sticking to the sides of my bin. My question is what happens to all the plastic bags that are used in the green bins? Everybody says use less plastic and then we're going back to using plastic bags and green bins.
When the materials are collected and they're taken to the organics facility, Convertus. Through their process, all of the materials run through a shredder. This takes the organic materials out of the plastic bags and through the rest of the process, the bags are put aside as a residual waste and they are loaded up and taken back to the landfill.
So the organic component is not mixed in with the plastic?
No. I'm not going to say it's 100%, but through their process, everything is run through the shredder and this removes the organic material for the process. The residual plastic waste is then taken to the landfill.
I hate for us to take a step backwards in all of this, if you know what I mean. I think the green bin is wonderful and I live in a rural area too. So far I haven't had really any issues with the wildlife getting into it, nor with my garbage, because we have special garbage bins that we can clamp down. I just was always wondering what happens to these plastic bags and was concerned that maybe we were doing more damage to the environment than good.
The plastic bags were incorporated to increase participation in the green bin program. Which it did so we're happy about that and like I said, it's run through a process. The bags are separated out and they're taken to the landfill as residual waste. Thank you.
OK, thanks for that, Johanna and Ian. Next, we have, the name is Owner, so you can unmute yourself.
I don't know why it comes up as Owner. My question is about invasive plants, so I found some buckthorn out on the property behind us this summer. And when it started fruiting, I cut it down and when I looked to see what I should do with it, some places say put it in a black plastic bag and leave it there for weeks in the sun. Other places say to put it in the recycling bin. But it depended on if the recycling, the green bin recycler or the green product recycling actually heated up enough when they were processing it to kill the seeds and the berries. So maybe Ian could answer that.
Good question. More often than not, when we're dealing with that here at the City, I know through my colleagues in parks, they ask people to put it in the plastic bags and bake it for a certain amount of time. I'm not 100% on the process at Convertus. Whether or not it reaches a certain temperature for long enough to kill that. I not 100% I'd have to get back to you on that.
Because I just thought, if you put it in a black plastic bag, I guess I would have to keep it for a few weeks in the sun because otherwise it just goes in the regular garbage and then kind of defeats the purpose.
I will put a plug in for an organization called the Ontario Invasive Plant Council. I see that one of the local members and force in that organization, Iola Price, is actually on this at this Zoom meeting today as an audience member. They have some very good information on how to control, manage, dispose of invasive plants. I would look up the Ontario Invasive Plant Council and you can very likely find information on disposal of buckthorn on their site.
OK, thank you.
It definitely matters which species you're dealing with when you're trying to handle the invasive species. As you noted, it matters whether you've got things like berries and seeds mixed in with the other material. When you dispose of it, some plants will reproduce quite readily from cut up chunks of root and stem. Others will only reproduce by seeds, but they produce a lot of seeds. You do have to know something about what you're dealing with to know how to dispose of it safely. As Nick said, the Invasive Plant Council provides excellent resources that I've referred to myself when I'm doing my weed disposal around the house. It's very good information. Thank you for your efforts in trying to make sure that you're controlling it, but doing so properly.
I had read that the seeds from the buckthorn are actually a laxative, so anybody that eats them then goes through them gets them dispersed everywhere. It was kind of self-serving.
It's a very successful invasive species. That one's a very interesting one, not only for the laxative effect, but it also helps to suppress some other types of plant growth around it. It has some of the similar effects that walnuts do. Different chemicals, but the same general effect where it can help depress the growth of some other plants.
I didn't know that.
Apparently butternut can outcompete it.
Yeah, it's kind of neat. Do we have any other questions from the audience at this point? Are there any other closing thoughts?
And you must. I have at least 150 degrees Fahrenheit or better in your composting. There is something. How to deal with the pH of the compost process, you need a certain amount of moisture. You need a certain amount of organic matter. I'm looking quickly through this Phragmites. It's been about three years since I read this thing, so I can't quite remember. But the short answer is the longer and the hotter the berries are composted, the better it is. One problem that I found here in Ottawa is putting berries into a black bag and leaving them out for two or three weeks in bright sunshine. We don't get two or three weeks bright sunshine very often. So that just doesn't work. But the answer is longer is better. If you are in the City of Ottawa would like to give us a small contract, we can do a little bit more work on this. Nick and Amy, I would be delighted to scan this and send it to you and then you'll have it on file. Brown, April 2018.
Yeah, please do that.
I'll I will. Thank you, Owner, whoever you are. Please do go to www.OntarioInvasivePlants.ca. We have best management practices. Documents for over 20 invasive plants and how to deal with them. I know this wasn't the subject of your discussion tonight, but I just can't resist since you gave me the opportunity.
OK, thank you.
Gentlemen, any closing thoughts on your part?
I’m going to put a plug in, again, for the Solid Waste Master Plan. Please. Ottawa.ca slash waste plan. The next round of public consultations are set to start in November. Please join in. Have your say. Just a correction, Amy, the last hazardous waste depot is on Sunday, October 24th.
Sunday, not Saturday,
8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
No closing thoughts from me, Amy, I think I've said everything I wanted to say.
I'll just put in a plug for the city's website as well. We do have information on how to avoid conflicts with wildlife around the home. They do include a few of those tips that Ian mentioned. We also have some links that I hope people will find helpful. Certainly, there are very good organizations locally that have tips on how to prevent conflicts with wildlife around the home. Certainly, managing your garbage around the home is one of the big ways that you can help to avoid those wildlife conflicts. To keep yourself, your homes, all of the wildlife around you, safe. I think we've all seen some of those pictures on social media of the poor little animals running around with peanut butter jars on their heads. As Ian says, there are easy ways to keep that from happening. You just have to think about it when you're putting your garbage out. Keep those lids on, keep those containers clean, make them less attractive. If you can keep your garbage inside until the morning of collection, it just gives the animals that much less opportunity to get into trouble. Everybody will be better off. It looks like we have another question from a last question.
It's Susan Collins, and it's actually not a question. I'd like to share something that was told to me by my nephew, who lives in downtown Toronto. What they found out, they’re a young couple with two small children, is that raccoons have no interest in diving into garbage bags that have dirty diapers. Rather humorous message. Not to say that you should line your garbage bag with dirty diapers, baby diapers, but they did say it's very effective because they don't have a lot of space to store their garbage in downtown Toronto, and the raccoons have no interest in the dumpster diving where there are dirty diapers.
Discerning trash pandas in Toronto, I take it. I wish my dog had the same reluctance to get into the diaper bin when we first started having that at home. Thank you for that closing note and thank you everyone for joining us this evening. I hope you found it informative. We will, as I said before, be posting the session on YouTube. If you want to, you can revisit it anytime you like. Thank you all and have a good evening.
Thank you. Thank you, everyone.
Windows of Opportunity: Making Our Homes Safer for Birds
Date and time
The presentation was recorded and can be viewed below:
Tonight, we have invited Safe Wings Ottawa to talk about the reasons behind the City’s new bird-safe design guidelines and how residents can make their homes safer for birds. Willow English has studied birds in many places around the world and she’s currently pursuing her Ph.D. at Carleton University. I’m not sure if you’d say she was roosting, perching, nesting there currently. All sorts of puns could be made. We also have Anouk Hoedeman, who’s the founder and coordinator of Safe Wings Ottawa, with us. Willow and Anouk were both very helpful to City staff during the development of our guidelines, and they have a wealth of experience and knowledge to share with us tonight. So, I would like to, at this point, invite Willow to start screen sharing with us and take it away. Thank you.
Willow: Alright, there we go. Thank you very much Amy, for that introduction. So I’ll be talking today about just the basis of the problem of collisions, and I’m going to be explaining how we can solve the problem, all the methods that we have and what we can do as individuals and what Safe Wings has been doing. So first let’s start with the numbers. Now, one billion birds are thought to collide every year in North America alone, but to me, that number just really doesn’t seen meaningful because it’s so big. It’s only when I see birds spread out like this that have been killed by collisions, and this is at one of the Safe Wings yearly displays, back when we could have public displays. You know, that really hits home. And this problem is one of the biggest problems that faces birds. We have about 7,000 collisions per year at one of the worst buildings in Ottawa, and when you compare that to wind turbines, which many people think of as a problem for birds, they kill less than one million a year in all of North America. So it’s a really major problem that we need to address.
Willow: More specifically, in Ottawa, in 2020, Safe Wings volunteers and the public recorded over 4,701 collisions. And this is actually only a very small portion of the birds who collide in Ottawa. We don’t monitor every building in the city; I think you’d be a little worried if we were wandering around outside your house. And even those that we do monitor regularly, we think that we only find about 5% to 15% of victims, and we’ll go through the reasons for that later. The estimated total in Ottawa is at the very least 250,000 birds per year, which is huge. And it’s not just common birds that are colliding, we’ve documented 144 species, and I think many of you would probably be surprised to learn that Ottawa even has 144 species. But we’ve also had individuals of 14 Species at Risk.
So why do we have this problem? And the answer to this is based on our love affair with glass. Glass has become one of the cheapest and most desirable building materials recently, and we’ve seen changes in the design of buildings from, at the top of the picture, a single residential home, to condos or apartments on the right-hand side, to office buildings on the lower left. We’ve really increased the amount of glass in the environment.
Willow: As I mentioned, it’s not just common birds that are colliding. It’s a huge diversity of birds. I mentioned we had just over 4,700 birds collide last year in Ottawa, and a big group of that was the warblers. We had over a thousand warblers collide, and these are these small, insect-eating birds that tend to migrate further north and breed in the Boreal Forest. We also had over 500 native sparrows, and I say native because I’m differentiating from house sparrows, which are introduced. Chickadees, they’re here all year round, they know the area very well, but they still collide. We had almost 300 thrushes, which are birds like robins. Kinglets are birds— they’re very small, and they tend to travel around in large flocks. And we actually documented a collision event where we had over 60 of these birds hit a single building in a single day, because when you travel in a flock, you hit buildings in a flock. We had over 200 woodpeckers, 166 nuthatches, 38 raptors, including owls, so that’s basically birds of prey. We had 46 individuals of Species at Risk, so these are species with small numbers or declining populations. And we also had a number of birds that you might not expect to collide, such as the turkey, that you can see pictured here, as well as ducks, shorebirds and cuckoos.
Willow: So you may be wondering, okay, 250,000 dead birds a year, why don’t I ever see them? Well, there’s a number of reasons. We have a very effective group of scavengers here in Ottawa, from crows to foxes to coyotes to gulls. But birds also, when they hit, can fall in areas where you just don’t see them. They can be hidden in vegetation. It’s pretty easy to overlook a hummingbird in long grass. And they’re often moved aside or discarded. One major thing that I will be talking about later is that a lot of birds who don’t immediately die from a collision, fly away and die elsewhere, so they may not be seen near the building where they hit.
Now when birds collide, most of them do die immediately, or very soon after. But it’s a bit of a myth that most of them are dying from a broken neck; in fact, it’s head trauma. It’s basically like if you ran full speed at a brick wall and collided head-first, and birds are doing this a lot faster and they have very thin skulls. Now, those who don’t die immediately tend to have injuries such as head trauma, but also things like internal bleeding or vision loss, and these injuries may be too much for them to survive, either because of the injuries themselves, or because they prevent them from finding food or escaping from predators.
Willow: Why do birds matter? Well, I know I just feel that birds have an intrinsic value, and I like seeing them and hearing them, but they’re also extremely important to our environment. They’re responsible for things like pest control, and there’s actually been a number of studies done, where they’ve excluded birds from areas of timber and found that the timber quality decreases, so it’s a huge economic incentive to keep birds as well. A turkey vulture is one of the few animals, or any way, to remove botulism toxin from the environment. And hummingbirds are responsible for pollination. Birds like the waxwing in the upper right eat lots of berries containing seeds, and when they poop out the remains, they disperse those seeds across the landscape. Birds are also important as a source of food for other wildlife and also for people.
North America is also, unfortunately, losing its birds. A recent study by colleagues at Environment and Climate Change Canada found that North America has lost almost 3 billion birds, and these are adult breeding birds, since 1970. And collisions with glass is one of the leading causes. The leading cause is actually cats, or the leading cause related to humans is actually cats, but many birds that cats attack and kill are actually, have collided with a window first, and that’s why they’re on the ground.
Willow: So, in order to be able to stop collisions, we need to understand why birds collide. And there’s two main reasons. Glass is an invisible hazard for birds, so they don’t really understand it because it’s not there in the natural environment. Birds have a problem with transparent glass. Basically, when they can see through to the other side and they’re trying to get there, they will attempt to fly through it. But they’re also fooled by reflections. So a bird seeing a reflection of a tree in glass thinks that that tree is real and will attempt to fly towards it.
So let’s go through some examples of transparency that you might see from day to day. Glass walkways are almost always a problem for collisions, unless there’s been treatments done to prevent them. The top one here is at the National Gallery, and you can see how birds will obviously know that they can’t fly through those buildings, but if they’re trying to get to the other side, they think that they can go through that glass walkway to reach the trees. It doesn’t need to be a three-storey glass walkway, either. In the lower panel you can see just a single glass walkway that is also a problem for collisions.
Now, glass railing panels are something that every person who works with collisions absolutely hates. And, basically, these just have a lot more glass in the environment because they’re so popular these days, but a bird trying to fly to the other side, perhaps because you have a plant on your balcony, or in the lower case, or in the lower picture, because it’s in the middle of a marsh, they don’t understand that there’s glass there and will just collide.
Willow: Indoor vegetation is also an issue when birds can see through windows. In the lower picture, you can see that it would be very difficult for a bird to understand that some of the plants are on the outside there and some of them are on the inside of the glass. So having plants close to windows where birds can see them can be very dangerous.
Now this cause of collisions is maybe a bit more subtle, but it’s basically when you have a corner of a building or any other structure where there’s glass on both sides. And birds are trying to take a shortcut, and they can see through that corner to the other side, and they can collide. And this is seen more and more as we have glass, more glass in buildings.
Now these examples I’ve shown really aren’t all the examples of transparent glass in the landscape. We can find things like these stairway panels, as well as even something like a smoking shelter or a bus stop. So, any time you can see through glass to the other side it can be a potential hazard for birds.
Willow: So let’s move on to reflectivity here. And reflections are basically of the trees or sky, and birds see them as real, so they attempt to fly towards it. And it’s important to remember that all glass is reflective in certain conditions. Some glass is more reflective than others. You can have mirrored glass, which is usually worse than very transparent glass, but, you know, all glass can cause reflections and therefore collisions. If you look down at the bottom left, you can also see that sometimes glass can be both transparent and reflective at the same time. So you can see, down here on the bottom left you have a tree that’s being reflected, so that can cause collisions, but you also have a corner with glass on both sides, where a bird might try and fly through.
Now, we are going to be focusing mainly on glass, because that tends to be the material that has these properties most often, but it’s not the only material like this. So, polished metal, as you can see in these garage doors, can be a problem if it causes reflections, and as I’m sure you’ve seen, we’re getting more and more Plexiglas in the environment with COVID, as people are trying to separate from other people, and this can also cause collisions.
Willow: So I’ve mentioned both transparency and reflections as reasons why birds collide, but sometimes people just tell us, you know, it’s doing it on purpose, it’s not because it doesn’t know that it’s there. And this is often found in male birds early in the spring, when they’re very territorial, their hormones are raging, and they see a reflection of themselves and think that it’s another bird, a rival that they can try and fight, and get to move from the area. So this is actually a shorter-term problem because once the hormone levels start decreasing, they tend to start leaving their reflections alone, but you can easily stop this just by covering it. And you get this sometimes in mirrors that are unlikely to cause a collision, but something like a car wing mirror birds tend to attack early in the year for this reason.
So now let’s move on to what makes buildings lethal. Now I’m sure if I asked all of you, okay, which of these two buildings, Parliament or this building out in Kanata, which one is worse for birds, I’m sure most of you would know that it was the one on the right. But there are certain characteristics that make it especially so. So if we compare these buildings, we see a lot more glass and a lot more reflective glass, highly reflective glass, on the one on the right, we see more vegetation around it, as well as a water feature. And these are all characteristics that mean that there’s more likely to be collisions at the building on the right.
Willow: But first let’s dispel a myth about collisions. A lot of people have heard about collisions at these all-glass skyscrapers, and while these are a problem, they’re not the main problem. In fact, while there’s some uncertainty about these numbers because it’s just very hard to document, it is thought that low-rise buildings like the one on the left here are actually responsible for more than half of collisions and residences are responsible for almost the rest. And this is related to the fact that birds tend to collide quite low down on buildings, usually at the height or below of where there’s trees. And so at the top of a skyscraper where there’s not as much to reflect, you’re less likely to have collisions.
Now the first indicator of whether a building is going to be dangerous for birds is simply just the amount of glass. So you may recognize this building in the upper left by Dows Lake, and it’s got these huge wraparound windows as well as these glass railing panels. So this building, because of the amount of glass, is likely to be dangerous to birds. Similarly, we have the example in the lower left, where you have a lot of glass, and you can also see through to the other side. We can also compare the amount of glass and the amount of collisions in the two buildings on the right. We have many fewer collisions at the one that’s closer to the, whoever’s taking the picture, simply because there’s less glass there to reflect.
Willow: The environmental context is also important. If you took the house from the top and moved it to the area at the bottom where there’s very little in the way of trees or vegetation, you would have many less collisions than if it is where the picture shows it. Similarly, if you move the house from the bottom up to the context in the top, you would have more collisions. And it’s not that you need a forest surrounding a building in order for there to be collisions, because even a single tree can make a difference. You may also have more birds in an area than you would expect based on the amount of green space, because birds can be drawn to areas that you wouldn’t expect them in because of light pollution. And I’ll be going over light pollution in a bit more detail later.
Design traps are a really interesting feature that can be harmful for birds because you basically have an area that has glass on multiple sides, and vegetation lures a bird in and then it has trouble leaving, either because it’s surrounded by reflections on multiple sides, or because, like in the upper picture, there’s these parallel lines of walls on either side, and it funnels the birds towards a hazard. So, you can see at the, right here if you can see my cursor, this looks like a way for birds to leave this courtyard, but in fact that’s entirely glass. Similarly, in the picture at the bottom, we have an alcove where birds can see through to the other side. So any bird that reaches this area between these two wings of the building is likely to collide as it moves through and tries to reach the other side of the building.
Willow: Now bird attractants can also increase collisions. Basically, if you have more birds around, you’re also going to have more collisions around. And bird attractants can include things like bird feeders, natural food sources like berries or other fruiting trees, vegetation, and also water features, whether they’re a bird bath or something natural. So it’s important if you’re drawing birds into your yard that you make sure your yard is safe for them.
Now, of course I mention, I’m mainly talking about collisions, but because Ottawa bird‑friendly design guidelines touch on a few other things, I thought I would include some other potential dangers to birds that you should be aware of. Now the first is guywires, and these are used to hold up things like towers or antennae, and they can be very dangerous to birds simply because they’re hard to see and birds are moving very quickly. And I’ve unfortunately found several birds that have had a wing sheared off because they hit a guywire at such speed. So it’s best if we can avoid guywires through designs that don’t require them, but we can also work on making them more visible to birds.
Willow: Now, window wells are something that people may be aware of as a danger to animals like mammals or amphibians, because how would a bird get stuck in here if a bird can fly? But, a lot of birds, when they first leave the nest, aren’t very good at flying and we tend to get a lot of calls in the spring when we have fledglings, so young birds who can’t fly well, and they get stuck in these window wells. And this can be solved by either preventing the birds from getting into the window wells or having an easy way for them to get out.
Open pipes, flues and vents are also a problem, and this is because many of the birds in Ottawa are what’s known as cavity nesters, and cavity nesters are birds that nest in a natural hollow, usually in a tree. And in urban or suburban environments, there’s often not a lot of large trees that have holes in them for the birds to use, so they look at man‑made sources instead. Now, in contrast to a tree hollow, which is very rough on the inside, a pipe or a chimney is quite smooth, and so a bird may have trouble getting out of it, and that’s why it’s important that we cap these off to prevent them from getting in. And you may think okay, well that explains the chimney topper and the pipe there, but what about the gazebo? The gazebo actually reminds me of a story that I was told by a friend, and they had bought one of these, and there was a little hole at the top of each of the legs. And that hole was just big enough for a chickadee to look into. And chickadees are one of our cavity‑nesting birds. And they ended up lifting up the gazebo at the end of the year and were horrified to find a stack of dead chickadees in several of the legs. And this is because the chickadees went in to look and couldn’t get out. So it’s important where you have little holes into small tubes to make sure they’re blocked off to prevent birds from going in.
Willow: Mesh is often used to prevent birds from accessing things like balconies, as you can see on the lower left. But it’s also used to prevent birds from getting into things like berries, but it’s not the only reason it could be used. Something like a soccer net can have mesh in it. And these can all trap birds. This is especially the case if you have holes in them, where birds can kind of get in and then get, have trouble getting out, but it can also be because the mesh is not very taut. So we recommend that you don’t use mesh unless you absolutely have to, and if you do need to use it, then you keep it in good repair and check it regularly to make sure there’s nothing caught in it.
Willow: So, I mentioned before light pollution. And light pollution affects birds mainly because many birds migrate at night, especially some of our smaller species. So birds who are migrating at night navigate by the stars and the moon, and so when there’s bright lights from human sources they get very disoriented and it can cause them to behave in ways that are dangerous to their health. And there’s two main different types of light that can do this. So bright lights, really bright lights like a searchlight or like this picture, which is showing the 9/11 memorial, basically draw birds in like a moth to a flame. And birds who are trapped in these bright lights will just circle aimlessly until they collide or they simply fall with exhaustion. And at this tribute, they actually have observers who make sure when they get a certain number of birds trapped in the light that they’re turned off and it allows the birds to disperse. And you can actually see the birds in this picture, they’re all the little specks, so it actually is very striking how many birds, especially during the migratory period, that can get trapped in a single light in one area. But it’s not just bright lights that are the problem. City glow, which is basically the lights from everything from cars to stores to houses, can cause birds to go into areas where they might not normally go. And these birds aren’t necessarily colliding at night; they’re getting drawn to an area, and this is a big problem in downtown Ottawa, as well as other parts of Ottawa, but they get drawn into an area, and then in the morning they realize that this is not a great place for them and they try and leave only to collide, because there’s usually lots of glass in areas with lots of light pollution.
Willow: Now, what can we do about light pollution? Now, first it’s important to consider the fact that there’s been a number of studies finding that having more light or brighter lights doesn’t actually reduce crime or increase human safety. And part of the reason for that is if you’re standing in an area of very bright light, you’re unable to see in the dark around it. So you’re less able to see your surroundings. So, we need to keep in mind that we need to limit our light, and that we may not actually be getting the results that we’re trying to get with having more light. The colour of the light is also important. Birds and other wildlife tend to be less affected by warmer light, so that would be the left-hand side of this picture at the bottom, and more affected by the harsh, white lights on the right-hand side.
It’s also important that we design both indoor and outdoor lighting to minimize the spill. So you can see in these two light fixtures, the one on the left has light spillage both upwards and outwards, where the one on the right is focusing the light downwards, which is the only place we really need it. We can also control lights with motion sensors and timers to make sure that the lights are only on when we actually need them. And while, you know, we have a big city here in Ottawa with lots of lights, you may think, you know, my lights don’t really make a difference, but even just turning off a single porchlight at houses across the city could make a difference.
Willow: So let’s talk now about preventing collisions. How do we do this? Now the easiest way to prevent collisions at buildings is to prevent— is to make the buildings bird-safe to begin with. And the easiest way to do that is to have bird-safe design guidelines. Now these are basically rules that are given to architects or developers that tell them what they need to do to make sure that the new buildings that they’re building are safe for birds. Now we have this bird-safe design guideline in Ottawa now, which is great news. Unfortunately it’s not mandatory, and that’s something that we would love to see. So cities like Toronto do have mandatory bird‑friendly design guidelines, which means that all new buildings have to follow this and make themselves safer for birds. So that’s something we’d really like to see in the future for Ottawa. Now, in areas that don’t have bird-friendly design guidelines, they can also, people can also use guidelines that are a bit more general, such as the Canadian Standards Association guidelines, and these are all very similar, and they outline what characteristics buildings need to have to prevent collisions.
Willow: Now, bird-friendly architecture sometimes gets a bad rap. We’re not trying to say that everyone needs to live in a windowless box. These are all examples of bird-friendly architecture, and you can see that inside they would have lots of light. And they’re using things like bird-friendly glass, which I’ll speak about shortly, but also these slats on the upper left, or frosted glass on the lower right. Some of these you might recognize, the one on the upper right is from Ryerson, while other ones are from across the globe.
So in order to have bird-friendly buildings, we need to use bird-friendly building materials. And one of our biggest bird-friendly building materials is bird-friendly glass. And this is basically glass that has a pattern on it, and that pattern tells the bird that there’s something there. So you can see that there’s lots of examples of this, the upper right here you might recognize, it’s the Rosemount Library, that was recently renovated and this little reading nook was put in. And it’s hard to see in this picture, but the pattern on that glass is actually letters of the alphabet, which is very appropriate for a library. And we can also see examples here of these wavy lines and a mixture of both frosted and clear glass here on this door. Things like these bricks of glass can give enough texture to prevent collisions, but bird-friendly building materials are not limited to just types of glass but can also be things like these railings in the bottom left that don’t have any glass in them and actually help protect birds from the windows behind them.
Willow: Now, bird-friendly glass can come with lots of different patterns, and you can see some examples of patterns that are available on the right-hand side here. But, the patterns need to follow specific guidelines in order to be effective. And these can be divided into three main groups. So the first is the spacing of the pattern, and the spacing needs to be a maximum of about 5 centimetres between pattern objects and a minimum of 6 millimetres in diameter of the pattern, and all of this needs to be on the exterior surface of the glass. And that’s because if it’s on the interior surface, when the glass is reflecting, you can’t see the inside. It also needs to be in a high-contrast colour, so if you have a dark-tinted glass, having a black pattern isn’t very helpful.
Now why is density so important? Well, let’s look at a contrast between glass that’s designed to prevent people from colliding, which is the bottom here, with these four lines across, and glass that’s designed to prevent birds from colliding, which is the one on the right. Now when a person looks at the glass on the lower left, they’re going to see, okay there’s glass here, these lines indicate that there’s glass throughout this entire area. Whereas birds don’t understand that about glass. If they see something in one area of the glass, they will avoid it, but it doesn’t prevent them from colliding with other areas. And so we have to make sure that there’s very little spaces in between, because birds are used to trying to fly between obstacles like branches with very little space between them.
Willow: And I mentioned before, bird-friendly glass is not the only way to make buildings bird‑friendly, there’s lots of other examples of integrated features, such as the grilles, these slats on the upper left, things like metal screening and shades on the bottom. So these are just some of the examples of bird-friendly buildings that are not necessarily using bird-friendly glass. So it’s just one of the tools in our toolbox to make buildings safer for birds.
We do have a few examples in Ottawa, of course we’d always like to see more. But the University of Ottawa STEM complex is built following bird-friendly design guidelines, and they’ve used a combination of this opaque glass and patterned glass to make a very interesting and attractive design. So the reflections are eliminated because they have the patterns or the opaque glass, but it still allows natural light, it reduces glare on the inside, and like I mentioned it’s a very interesting and attractive building.
Place Bell is actually not a building that was built following bird-friendly design standards, but when it was renovated they made it bird‑friendly. And so what they did is they used patterned glass, you can’t really even tell that it’s patterned from a distance, but this is all patterned with lines. And they used frosted glass, as you can see in the lower left here. So this building is now bird‑friendly after this retrofit.
Willow: And as I mentioned, it’s a lot easier and more economic to make buildings bird‑friendly to start with, but there are methods that we can use to prevent collisions at any building that already exists, whether it’s a large office building or single-family house. And let’s go over these now, and I’ll focus more on what you can do at your house, but a lot of these can be used at a larger scale on larger buildings.
So if you have collisions, there’s a few things that you can do very quickly that aren’t super effective but will help. The first is that if you have a bird feeder or bird bath, you need to make sure it’s very close to your window, less than one metre is ideal. And this may seem counterintuitive, but normally when birds collide when they’re at a feeder, it’s because they get startled off the feeder. And if the feeder is very close to the window, they won’t be moving very quickly when they collide, and so they’re less likely to be hurt. If the feeder is further away, they’ll be moving at full speed when they collide and are more likely to be killed or injured. Moving indoor plants away from windows is important, because a bird may see through that window and try to get to that plant, and this is especially true if you have large amounts of plants that would attract a bird. You can also close curtains or blinds, but as with having glass patterns on the inside, if there’s reflections causing the collisions, this won’t help. So it only helps if the problem is that the bird can see through to the other side of the house.
Willow: The most important thing is to have visual markers in the glass to make the birds aware that it’s there. And one of our favourites at Safe Wings is a product called Feather Friendly. And for the do-it-yourself version, it comes basically like a roll of scotch tape, and you apply it, and then you peel it off, and it leaves these dots behind. And what’s important to look at here is that the dots are widely spaced but they actually only cover up about 4% to 5% of the total window, so you still get lots of light.
Window films are another effective solution. And these can be patterned like the ones on the upper side of this slide, or they can be solid, as in the bottom left. Now the bottom left looks like it’s solid and it’s just blocking off the window, but the middle picture shows what it looks like from the inside, and it shows I think a pool for a bird feeder there, showing that it’s important that this window be treated, but it still allows light while preventing collisions and also increasing your privacy.
Screens are great at preventing collisions, but only if they’re on the outside of the window. Paracord is also a very sort of surprisingly effective solution. The picture on the right here shows a window that just has one bit of plastic or aluminum at the top, and then lines of paracord at the proper spacing that are hanging down and are attached at the bottom, and this will also prevent collisions, and is something that you can make for yourself and is very inexpensive.
Willow: But we’re really not limited as long as we follow the instructions about things being on the outside of the glass, about being high-contrast colour and having appropriate density. You can get creative, and if you’re trying to do something just to test it out, you can use these liquid chalk markers to make a really, really gorgeous pattern like here. And if you want something a bit more long term, you can use these oil-based paint markers to do something like the window on the left, which has a screen on the outside in the middle section, and then these really great patterns with the oil-based paint marker on either side.
And as I mentioned, while these are— I was focusing mainly on ways to do this at home, these same methods can be expanded to large projects as well. So, in the upper left you can see a building that’s been retrofitted with bird-friendly glass in Ottawa, and on the right you can see the paracord on a bigger building, still hanging down and attached at the top and bottom, preventing collisions. This film on the bottom right is the same as the white one that was seen on that single pane of glass, and it allows you to see through and for light to get through from one side, but not the other. And on the bottom left you may recognize this glass walkway is the one that I mentioned previously from the National Gallery. And this has actually been retrofitted with the dots, and because it is a large structure and a bit higher off the ground than most people’s home windows, you need a little bit of extra equipment, but it can still be done. If you are getting new windows, bird-friendly glass is definitely one of the best solutions, it’s relatively inexpensive compared to, you know, it’s not that much more expensive than just normal glass. And it’s an attractive way to make sure you have a long-term solution.
Willow: Now what’s really important if we’re trying to prevent collisions at existing buildings is to listen to the science. Because, although we’re still learning about collisions, we do know how to prevent them. And when guidelines aren’t followed, we get buildings that are supposed to be bird‑friendly and aren’t. And unfortunately there’s a prime example of that in Ottawa, and this is the National Arts Centre. And this building’s major renovation was designed by an architect from Toronto, and as I mentioned before Toronto has mandatory bird‑friendly design guidelines, so all the architects from Toronto should know how to make a building bird‑friendly. And you can see the pattern here has spacing that is too wide to prevent collisions. Any smaller bird would think that they could fly between those markers, and so they won’t be effective. They’re also on the inside of the glass, so you can’t really see them from the outside, and they’re in a low-contrast colour, it’s, they’re kind of a beigey colour, although it’s hard to see in this picture. And since this building was renovated and supposedly bird‑friendly, we’ve had 46 collisions in just 2020, including a Species at Risk, and because we don’t think we find most of the birds who collide, even at buildings we monitor, the true number hitting this supposedly bird‑friendly building is more like 300 to 450.
Willow: So I thought it was also important to show a bit what doesn’t work. And this includes these decals, which unfortunately are still widely sold as solutions to bird collisions. And the reason they don’t work is because they don’t have the density needed to prevent collisions. So a bird won’t collide with this corner here because there’s something here, but this decal in the corner won’t keep the bird from colliding in this area. Birds also don’t recognize a static shape like this as a bird of prey or as a threat, so they don’t keep— a bird of prey outline doesn’t keep birds away. So you can use these as an effective solution, but only if you put a ton of them up, and that would block your view and let in less light, so we don’t recommend these.
Another thing that doesn’t work and has had some very mixed results in testing is UV collision deterrents. And the theory here is that because some birds can see in the UV spectrum, if we put in UV-reflective material in the glass, the birds should be able to see it and we don’t. And that sounds great, but it doesn’t really live up to the hype. So one of the reasons is that a lot of birds actually don’t see in the UV spectrum, so those birds aren’t prevented from colliding. The other issue is that a lot of collisions, perhaps the majority, occur in the very early morning. And as other people who sunburn easily might know that there’s very little UV light in the morning; that’s when I tend to come out in the sun in the summer. So there’s very little UV light around to reflect and to show birds that there’s something there. So this is why Safe Wings does not recommend these products.
Willow: So let’s talk now, if we know the solutions, about putting them in action. So I’m going to share a bit about what Safe Wings does, and then I’m going to follow that up with about what you can do as an individual.
So one of the main things that Safe Wings does is building monitoring. And this is basically volunteers going around buildings during the migratory season as well as sometimes the rest of the year, and looking for dead and injured birds. When we find them, we record when and where the bird was found, as well as the species, we collect the dead birds and we bring the injured ones to a rehabber so they can hopefully be helped. And this is really important for identifying problem buildings and being able to demonstrate to building owners that there’s a problem. We also work with the government, the City of Ottawa, we work with extensively, as I mentioned before. We’ve helped with the guidelines, the bird-friendly design guidelines so that hopefully new buildings in Ottawa will be safer for birds. We also work with the National Capital Commission. You might recognize the structure in the upper right here, which is a visitor’s centre at Gatineau Park, and this is actually being retrofitted with dots on it to prevent collisions. We also are uniquely situated to be able to work with the federal government, and we’ve been working with organizations, with departments like Environment and Climate Change Canada, as well as others, to make sure that the buildings that the government uses are bird‑friendly, as well as requiring that in other buildings. So that’s an ongoing project.
Willow: Safe Wings does a lot of outreach and education. We were one of the main contributors to the Ottawa Bird Strategy, which is a document that basically identifies the main threats facing birds in Ottawa, and also identifies solutions that we can work towards to prevent these problems. We do a lot of outreach with property owners and managers, often at the buildings that we monitor, and we are able to show them that there’s a problem and suggest solutions. We talk to architects and builders about how to make sure that new buildings are safe for birds. We have quite a lot of social media activity, we highly urge everyone to follow us on social media if you have it. And this is where we help to educate the public as well as share things like events like this one. We do our annual bird display, or at least we normally do, when people can meet, and we’re looking at ways to do that safely this year as well. And we’ve led things like a Jane’s Walk, showing buildings that are dangerous and buildings that are safe for birds in the downtown area. We also do lots of outreach with school and community groups, so we’re basically trying to raise awareness about both the problem and the solutions. You may know about our Safe Wings hotline. This is a number that people can call if they have questions or if they have an injured or dead bird. So we can provide information about preventing collisions or what people can do if they find an injured bird. We can also often give assistance. Although we are entirely volunteer-run, so it really depends on if we have enough people available. In the upper right here we have two of us here. You don’t actually see the bird in this picture, but we did capture a Canada goose on the parkway with a broken wing. We’ve worked with some really great arborists who have helped with birds who are stuck in trees, usually with entanglements, or helped reunite birds with their parents after they’ve fallen out of the nest.
Willow: We also have two volunteers that run— that are licensed rehabilitators and run short‑term care rehab facilities out of their houses. As you might expect, we are window collision specialists, and this is because window collision victims do require some specialized care, so it’s similar to having a concussion in a human, and one of the main things that we can offer them is oxygen-enriched areas, and this helps them to basically get the oxygen that they need while they’re recovering, and we can also just give them a supportive environment where they have adequate food and they’re protected from predators and scavengers. And we work with the Wild Bird Care Centre in Ottawa as well as other facilities when we have patients that need longer-term care. And you can see from the pictures here that we get everything from a mourning warbler on the lower left to a pileated woodpecker and chimney swift, and so we get a huge diversity of birds coming through, and we have a really high success rate in helping them out.
Alright, so that’s what Safe Wings is doing to help birds. But what about people as individuals, what can they do? Now the most important thing perhaps is to treat your windows or your railings. We offer, Feather Friendly as I mentioned before is a great product, we offer that for sale as do many other retailers, such as Wild Birds Unlimited, and you can also buy it online. So this is a really effective way. You can also use homemade methods like the paracord on the left there, and our website has a lot of information about how to do this effectively.
Willow: You may not be in a situation where you can make changes to your building, whether it be your home or your office, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t help birds. It’s really important to know if there’s a problem, so monitoring for collisions, whether at your home or your work or your school, is really important, and can be a really good excuse to go for a short walk every once in a while. Any collisions you find can be reported on our website, so we have an awareness of what buildings may be a problem. And you can also talk to your building manager or condo board or other management if you do discover that there is a problem. And Safe Wings can help both with information and background if you’re speaking to building management, as well as supplies and information about monitoring buildings.
Sharing your knowledge is really important. I am just amazed now, now that people I know tend to be aware that I work with collisions, everyone has a story about a collision, and lots of people want to know how they can prevent them. So talk to your neighbours, talk to your friends, family, let them know that there are solutions and send them to our website, you know, we can make sure to spread the word amongst everyone so that people know that there’s solutions. You can also advocate for bird-friendly building design, this is really important, and we need more widespread support for this, talking to elected officials as well as when we have these community consultations, when there’s new developments, attending those and asking, what are you doing here to protect birds? That’s really important. If you have friends who are architects or builders, share what you’ve learned tonight, direct them to Safe Wings’s website. We need to make sure that everyone who is making new buildings is aware of this problem. One of the ways, if you’re not really sure on how to start this, or where to start with this, is following us on social media. We often have featured posts about how you can help speak up for birds such as signing a petition to update Ontario’s Building Code, or in the lower picture we had people make comments on the US government website when they were talking about lowering protections for birds.
Willow: Rescuing live birds is also super important. If you do find a live bird that’s injured, don’t hesitate. Because birds are scavenged very quickly, or they may manage to fly away just enough so you can’t find them again. You can gently pick up a bird and put it in a box or a bag and then give us a call for further instruction. If it’s something bigger, you can use a towel or a blanket to throw over it and put it in a bigger box, but it’s important no matter what the bird, that you don’t handle it more than you need to. And this is really important because people tend to like peeking into the box or taking a picture, but stress can actually kill birds. So once it’s in a box, give us a call and make sure you leave it somewhere quiet and warm and dark. And don’t be afraid of birds as well, a lot of people are afraid of birds, but unless you happen to find an injured eagle or great blue heron, they really can’t hurt you.
Willow: And this, if you take nothing else home from this presentation, I hope you remember this. We get this so often. Someone who has found a bird that has collided, they put it in its box, and we’re giving them instructions on, to bring it to a rehabber, and they say, well, you know, it seems fine now, can I just let it go? And the answer is a resounding no. Because birds that have major injuries can still fly sometimes, and some injuries take a long time to show up. And I’ll give you two examples. The bird on the lower left there is a brown creeper, which is a tiny little bird at about 10 grams, and they actually, some of them overwinter in Ottawa, which is amazing. But we, one of our rehabbers had a brown creeper, and it seemed fine the day after the collision, except for it seemed a bit puffy. And she looked more closely at it and found that it was actually inflating a bit like a balloon. And this is because it had punctured an air sac, which is sort of a bird equivalent of a lung, when it collided. And every breath it took let a little bit more air under its skin. So this bird actually had to be deflated multiple times by our rehabber, and if it had been released after it collided, it would have definitely died. The other example is this pine grosbeak on the lower right here, and this is a bird who collided and seemed lively and okay, shortly after, and then the next day showed this blood in the eye. So if this bird had been released after it collided, it would be out there trying to survive blind in one eye. So this is why we tell people birds who collide always need to get to a rehabber if possible.
Willow: Now that— collecting injured birds is important, but so is collecting a dead bird. And this is because finding these dead birds and knowing where they came from is really important for us to be able to determine which buildings are a problem and to be able to demonstrate to building management that there is a problem. So if you do find a dead bird, retrieve it immediately. Again, there’s so many scavengers, it’s amazing how fast things can come and grab a dead or injured bird. And put it in a bag, give us a call, sometimes you may not be able to take it with you, in which case try hiding it and let us know where it is, or, you know, at the very least, take a picture, because that’s better than nothing. It is always better for us to have the actual specimen, sometimes when you’re trying to I.D. a bird it’s very helpful to have more than a picture, to actually have the bird. But it still, it does help. And it is low risk, just like handling live birds, just make sure you wash your hands after.
Now these are things that you can do on your own, but, being part of a collective is always going to be more effective. And so we’re always looking for more volunteers at Safe Wings, whether it’s something like a driver or a rescuer when we have injured birds, or a building monitor. And you don’t need to dedicate a huge amount of time, you can dedicate as much or as little time as you want, even it’s just going for a walk every day, or a couple days a week, and looking at a nearby building to see if there’s any birds there. Once people know a bit more about collisions, you can do— participate in events like this, doing outreach. But a lot of people sometimes have skills that they may not recognize as helpful to an organization like Safe Wings. So we really encourage people to get on our website and fill out our volunteer form. We are also an entirely donation-based non-profit organization, so if you’re able to donate, that helps us as well.
Willow: So Safe Wings Ottawa is helping to make Ottawa a safer place for birds. We hope that you’ll join us in this, and save our number, look on our website, and find out how you can support Safe Wings and support birds in Ottawa. And I’d like to thank everyone for coming out tonight, I know a lot of us are pretty Zoom’d out, so having another hour-long Zoom in the evening may not be the most inviting thing, but it’s great that so many people are interested in this problem and now aware of the solutions. So, we welcome questions, both myself and Anouk, and yeah, I’ll pass it back to City of Ottawa staff.
Amy: Thank you so much there Willow, that was great. And at this time, we would like to invite people to use that Reactions function at the bottom of the Zoom window, you can use that to express your appreciation certainly, or you can also use it to raise your hand, that is an option under the Reactions tab, and we will be taking questions at this point for Willow and Anouk. And so just raise your hand and one of our staff will unmute you and let you know when it’s your turn to ask a question. And I’m seeing lots of virtual applause and thumbs up, so thank you very much. That’s great to see, it was an excellent presentation. Oh, we have a hand up. And remember that, again, Willow is bilingual if you want to ask your question in French or English, we can accommodate.
City staffer: Great, so Pam, you’re unmuted.
Pam: Hi, I was just wondering, the new public library that they have planned down in LeBreton Flats looks like it has tons of glass and lots of plants, and has that been designed as bird‑friendly?
Willow: So, that’s a complicated answer. And I might say a couple words and then pass this one to Anouk, because she’s been more involved with the library than I have. They say it will be bird‑friendly and there’s plans to use bird-friendly glass, but there are aspects of it that still concern us at Safe Wings. So maybe Anouk can expand on that.
Anouk: Yeah, so one of our concerns is that light pollution, as far as we know, hasn’t been addressed. And we know designs are changing and stuff, and we have seen some improvements from the earlier ones. But we expect light pollution to be a problem there, unless, you know, there’s shades installed or some kind of system to reduce the light overnight, but because it’s a public space that would be used at night, we’re concerned that it will be lit up quite brightly at night. The other thing is that in general it just has areas with a lot of glass, especially on the upper floors, so even with bird-friendly glass it could still be a bit of an issue. I mean it’s better to have bird-safe glass but, you know, usually the best place to start with making a building bird‑friendly is to just reduce the amount of glass that’s unnecessary. So, you know, we’re hoping that it will be bird safe, it will certainly be better than the National Arts Centre, I’m pretty confident about that.
Pam: Okay, thank you.
Amy: That’s not necessarily a high bar, given what we’ve just heard. But I will say that, you know, from the very beginning we have shared the— Ottawa’s guidelines in draft form with the library design team and we’ve continued to keep them updated and apprised of the progress of the guidelines right up to their approval by city council last November. So they are aware fully aware of the guidelines and they have engaged with Safe Wings to try to improve on that design.
Willow: I did also have a question in chat, direct chat to me, asking whether clean windows are worse than dirty ones. In general, yes, anything that makes a window more transparent or makes reflections look more real will increase collisions. However, while having a dirty window may lower collisions, it’s not going to be as effective as one of the solutions we outlined.
City staffer: Okay, so I’m going to, sorry, unmute Hiro.
Hiro: Hi, thank you very much for the presentation, it was fantastic, I really appreciate it, I especially appreciated that you’ve given me an excuse not to wash my windows. But I wanted to ask about the— this presentation, will it be recorded, because I’m part of a community here that would be very interested in this, sorry, I see it is recorded, will it be made available to participants so that we can share it with others who might be interested in this?
Amy: The recording will be posted on the City’s YouTube channel. I can’t give you an exact time, because we do need to make sure that we get captions produced to make it fully accessible for people, so that can sometimes take time. But yes, it will be made available via the City’s YouTube channel, along with the previous two wildlife speakers series events that we’ve had.
Willow: And when that happens we’ll make sure to announce it on Safe Wings social media, so if you follow us, we’ll try and keep everyone up to date with that.
Amy: I’m not seeing any other hands up. You covered all of the issues so well.
Willow: Well, I will say that if anyone has questions specific about, you know, their own home, or how to best treat their own windows, please feel free to reach out to Safe Wings and we can often help with that. Similarly, if you know of an area that has lots of collisions and you want to approach the building management, we can help with that. So definitely feel free to get in touch, questions, concerns like that, so.
Amy: Okay, I’m seeing one person suggesting that the question function is not working for them, so that’s unfortunate. Again, you know, folks have managed to type questions directly to Willow as the presenter or to, you know, you can also type it to one of the City of Ottawa staff. We have seen some folks able to use the Reactions tab at the bottom of the screen. So, if you just hover over the bottom, you know, the bottom part of your Zoom window then you should be able to see the Reactions tab down there. Oh, there’s a question, someone’s got their hand up.
City staffer: Erin, you should be good.
Erin: Hi there, thank you. I’ll ask a quick question. So I guess what I’m wondering is, if I want to do a do-it-myself project and get some of these stickers for my windows, you know, with a two-storey house, it’ll be tricky for me to apply them on my own to the second-storey windows. Is it, like if all I can do is my first-storey windows is that, you know, better than nothing, or, just wanted to get your thoughts on that?
Willow: Certainly, treating any window is better than nothing. And people often have an idea of which buildings, or sorry, which windows in a building are the worst, so you may have noticed collisions at one or two and not at others, so those would certainly be the priority ones. Having— we tend to hear about collisions less on the second storey, simply because there’s often less there to reflect, so it sort of depends on what’s around. You can still have collisions on a second storey, all the way up, you know, to fourth or fifth storey, but definitely, starting with known problem windows is the best, and if you do have collisions on your upper windows, looking into a way to get up there would be maybe something to do later on. I don’t know, Anouk, do you have anything to add?
Anouk: Yeah, I’d like to add that I actually did most of the second windows on our house, second-floor windows. It required a ladder, an extension ladder, and good balance and some patience, but I was able to do it. And I have heard of other people who’ve been able to treat windows from the inside of the house. So if you have, say, casement windows that flip down, you know, for, so you can clean the outsides of them, some people have those or, I mean, I guess those are, sorry, double-hung windows. Casement windows sometimes you can reach out to be able to do it. Somebody, I think Ted Chesky from Nature Canada actually did a video of him putting Feather Friendly on his own windows from the inside of the house. So it’s possible, and the other thing is to hire somebody who can do it for you. We’ve been trying to put together a list of people, you know, handyperson‑type people who might be able to take on that stuff. We haven’t found people specifically to do that, but if you ask around, you know, window washers might be another option, who would be willing to go up there and do that sort of thing.
Amy: I’ll just add that I’ve recently been getting quotes myself to have Feather Friendly installed here at the house. We’re only looking at doing some of the larger windows on the first floor, but I did discuss the possibility of doing upper-storey windows. There are contractors who are able to do that here in Ottawa. The people that I contacted were both 3M dealers locally, so they are out there if you look up, you know, Feather Friendly and look for local dealers, and you can probably find someone to give you a quote.
Anouk: If I can also just add, what I also did on a couple of the windows on the second floor that I couldn’t reach as easily, I made those paracord systems to hang in front of those, and I was able to attach those much more easily with industrial-strength Velcro to the outside of the window. So that’s— it requires a lot less time to install it, so it’s a lot easier.
Willow: Yeah, and we’re working on getting that list of installers on our website. I also do have a couple questions in my chat, so I might go ahead and answer those. Someone asking what defines a Species at Risk, and what are some of the ones we’ve seen in Ottawa. So a Species at Risk is a designation either from the provincial or the federal government, and they look at things like how many of that species is estimated to be in Canada, whether it’s a small population, and whether it’s been declining rapidly. And so these species have extra protection under the law. So most of the species in Ottawa are protected under various laws, but the Species at Risk Act gives extra protection to birds that are designated as Species at Risk. We’ve had, I don’t know if I can offhand name all 14—
Amy: You’ve had chimney swift, we saw that in the presentation, and that one’s a Species at Risk.
Willow: Chimney swift, barn swallow, olive-sided flycatcher, evening grosbeak—
Anouk: Peregrine falcon, wood thrush, Canada warbler, golden-winged warbler, eastern wood pewee, what else are we missing?
Amy: Common night hawk.
Willow: Oh yeah, whip-poor-will.
Anouk: Yup. Common night hawk, thank you Amy.
Willow: Yeah, yeah. So lots of those. And then the second one, second question we have, will the NAC do anything to retrofit their windows to prevent collisions? Anouk, I’ll let you take this one as you’ve been dealing with them.
Anouk: Sorry, can you repeat that again?
Willow: Will the NAC do anything to retrofit their windows?
Anouk: I hope they will. We’ve been working on that. They haven’t done anything yet, which is unfortunate. I, we already have a bird this year that collided there that we know of. We’ve been trying to convince them, because there are different options they could use, but, you know, it’s a good lesson, that you have to do it right in the first place to make sure your building is bird‑friendly. And it’s a lot easier to do it when you’re planning the building rather than to try to retrofit after the fact, you know, just, maintenance-wise, and also budget-wise. So, you know, please everybody do encourage them to take action.
Willow: One thing I’ll add to that as well is that we’ve actually had— we’ve found that them not following the guidelines and not doing it effectively has caused pushback with other developers, who say, well they spent all this money to make it bird‑friendly and it doesn’t even work. And so why should we do that? And we try and explain that they didn’t follow the guidelines and so we wouldn’t expect what they did to work, but we definitely have heard from other developers, you know, that they don’t want to try because this one didn’t work.
Anouk: We do encourage anybody who’s planning to build something to be bird‑safe to run it by us, because we’re happy to look at plans and to give our feedback on how effective we think it’s going to be.
Willow: Yeah, there’s no— you don’t want to waste a whole bunch of money on a solution that we could have told you from the beginning isn’t going to work, so, that is, that is definitely— and all of this, we’re happy to provide advice for free.
Amy: Thank you, I think it’s Ishmael’s turn, he’s been waiting patiently.
City staffer: Yes.
Anouk: Oh, he’s still on mute, though.
Ishmael: If I wanted to buy one of the DIY projects, where could I buy them?
Anouk: I’ll take it. You can contact Safe Wings. You can find our contact information at safewings.ca, or you can go online to Feather Friendly, it’s, I think it’s featherfriendly.com, and they have information there on ordering it online.
City staffer: So we just have a question here. “Great presentation, thank you, can we have an idea of costs of installing the feather option and then when we clean our windows, does it peel away or damage the dots?”
Willow: Yeah, so, you know, cost is always going to feature in people’s decisions. For a roll of Feather Friendly, it’s about $20. We do also sell them as three-packs if you’re doing larger areas, which are a bit cheaper per roll, and that does an area about the size of a sliding glass door, so like a double-glass door. So, it doesn’t, they actually last quite a long time, there’s buildings that have had this applied for over 10 years in Toronto, and they’re still looking good. And if by chance you do have one of the dots that falls off, I just keep the ends of the rolls that I have, and you can replace them. So, yeah, it’s— for doing it yourself, it’s not too expensive and there are other options like with the oil paint marker or the paracord that are certainly much cheaper. Installing this at a commercial level, so on bigger buildings, tends to be much more costly, but that tends to be because of the labour, and often if they need a lift to get up to higher areas.
Anouk: I just want to clarify, a single roll of Feather Friendly will do 16 square feet, and that’s actually equivalent to a single patio door, or a standard, you know, like your front door if it were all glass. Just to clarify.
City staffer: Thank you, we have another question. “If you use the ink to draw on the outside of the windows, will it remain after cleaning the windows?”
Anouk: If you’re using an oil-based paint marker or any kind of oil-based paint, it will be— I mean you’d be able to scrape it off, but it won’t come off easily. If you use something like a chalk marker or Tempera paint, then it will come off more easily. It will probably wear off with the weather and you’d be able to wash it off more easily.
Willow: I had a comment here just about, you know, important to remember your house but also your cottage, a lot of people have cottages, they tend to be in areas with more vegetation, maybe some more birds, so this is also something to consider for your cottage as well. I’m sure screens are very valuable in a lot of those places, so, having an exterior screen is a great way to make a cabin bird‑friendly and to prevent bugs.
Anouk: And just think of, you know, because we know the problem with scavenging with birds that collide, or getting preyed on, often people don’t realize how many birds are dying at the cottage when they’re not there. And I remember talking to somebody who said that, oh yeah, every spring they would open up the cottage and they would find that the big picture window was broken because a grouse would have gone through it. And you think, well, if that happens every year, do something about it. But I mean the only reason they knew about the collisions is because a grouse is a big enough bird that it can break a window.
Amy: Thank you very much. Those were some great questions and some, you know, very helpful responses. If we don’t have any more questions, then I think we will give another round of applause, whether that’s, you know, in person or virtual, feel free either way. Thank you very, very much to Willow and to Anouk for being with us tonight and providing this excellent presentation. And we’ve really appreciated it, and I look forward to getting it up on the YouTube channel and seeing how many more views we can get up there. We had close to 100 people here tonight, watching live, which is excellent numbers, and, you know, certainly a topic that hits close to home for many of us and especially over the past year, I think people have been noticing the issue more when they’ve been working from home, if they weren’t before. You know, I know that I personally did hear at least one bird hitting my window when I was working here in my home this past year, and it did inspire me to, you know, put some actions behind the city’s guidelines that I was involved with bringing forward, and make sure that they actually get applied here at home as well. Thank you very much, everyone.
Anouk: Thank you, everyone.
Amy: Have a good evening.
Speaker: Willow English, Safe Wings Ottawa
Windows allow natural daylight into our homes and workplaces, and may provide breathtaking views of the world outside. Unfortunately, most birds do not recognize windows and other transparent or reflective surfaces as a solid barrier. Many thousands of birds are injured and killed every year in Ottawa from collisions with buildings and other structures. Light pollution at night is also detrimental to migrating birds and other wildlife. We can all help to reduce these risks. The City of Ottawa recently developed Bird-Safe Design Guidelines for use when planning and reviewing new buildings. This Wildlife Speaker Series event will help residents recognize and reduce the risks to birds around their homes. We hope you can join us!
Safe Wings Ottawa is a local organization of dedicated volunteers working to raise awareness and make our city safer for birds. They were key supporters in the development of the City’s guidelines, and continue to provide advice to residents, building owners and managers who want to reduce risks to birds. They also monitor bird collisions in the city and provide rescue services to injured birds.
Willow English is a PhD candidate in biology at Carleton University working on Arctic-breeding shorebirds. She has been volunteering with Safe Wings since 2017, monitoring buildings and doing outreach in the community. She has worked on avian research projects across Canada, Hawaii, Alaska, Germany and Belize. Through her career and volunteering, Willow is working to make the world a better place for birds.
Discovering Nature: there’s an app for that!
Date and time
Speaker: James Pagé, Canadian Wildlife Federation
Nature is all around us – throughout the city, in our greenspaces and in our backyards. Many Ottawa residents have been exploring their local natural areas and greenspaces this year and getting to know some of their wild neighbours. Camera phones and online resources such as iNaturalist.ca enable residents to record, identify and learn more about the things they see. iNaturalist allows residents to contribute to conservation by compiling millions of observations across Canada and around the world. Researchers and naturalists can access this data to examine trends in wildlife sightings and occurrences. The information is useful for species at risk recovery and environmental impact assessment. Our speaker, James Pagé, will address how iNaturalist is helping people reconnect with nature, new Canadian discoveries, and whether nature has rebounded in a time of shutdowns and decreased human activity.
James Pagé leads the Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF)’s initiatives on species at risk conservation as well as CWF’s involvement with provincial and federal governments with respect to endangered species protection. He works on various species at risk and biodiversity projects at CWF, including turtle recovery work, rare species surveys, bat recovery and citizen science. Working with the folks at iNaturalist.org, James has also been the lead at CWF in the creation of iNaturalist.ca, along with partners at the Royal Ontario Museum, Parks Canada and NatureServe Canada.
The presentation was recorded and can be viewed on YouTube.
Learn more about iNaturalist Canada and check out the videos that walk you through what it’s all about.
Living with Coyotes – February 6, 2020
Date and time
Speaker: Dr. Stan Gehrt, Ohio State University
Nature Expo – 7 pm
Opening remarks and Presentation - 8 pm
Admission is free and will be on a first come, first served basis. No registration required.
Welcome to this fifteenth session of the city's Wildlife Speaker series.
I am very pleased to see many of you made it out here tonight despite the weather forecast very impressive thank you.
My name is Amy McPherson and I work in the city's natural systems and rural affairs unit here at city hall.
Tonight's presentation is being broadcast live on YouTube and we would like to welcome all those who may be listening at home.
For those of us in the room little bit of housekeeping please note that if there is any kind of an emergency.
We have 3 exits in this room.
The one where you came in.
And then there's also 2 doors at the front of the room with the bright red exit signs there.
Also in this room you may notice, we have flags representing the peoples of our Algonquin and Anishanabe host host nation.
We recognize here at the city of Ottawa that is built on the unceded territory of the Algonquin nation.
The people of the Algonquin and Anishanabe nation have lived on this territory for millennia and their culture and presence has nurtured and continue to nurture the city.
We would like to honour the peoples and lands of the Algonquin Anishanabe nation and we would also like to honour all First Nations and Metis people their elders our ancestors and their valuable past and present contributions to this land.
The goal of the speakers is to highlight the co-existence with wildlife by increasing residents understanding of the animals that we share our city with our wild neighbours.
Mutual respect is a key part of co existence particularly where predators and those large animals are concerned.
There's an old saying about good fences making good neighbours.
And in some cases with wildlife that's literally true if you're trying to protect your garden or your livestock.
In other cases it simply means that we need to respect each other's boundaries and personal space.
And for coyotes at this time of year personal space is particularly important.
Our speaker tonight Dr. Stan Gehrt from the Ohio State University will explain what that is in his presentation.
Dr Gehrt was actually our very first speaker in this series back in 2014.
He and his team has been studying coyote populations in Chicago.
In and around the city of Chicago for 20 years now.
It's an extraordinary program of research which has produced incredible insights into how our coyotes have adapted to living in and among our cities and urban suburban and rural settings and we're very pleased to have him here back in Ottawa.
To share his findings he'll address some common misconceptions and help us all understand how to reduce the risk of conflicts with coyotes.
So I'd like you please welcome Dr. Stan Gehrt.
[Dr Stan Gehrt:]
Thanks for having me.
Good evening everyone can hear me okay?
And hopefully the YouTubers can hear this this is a new experience for me as well don't know if I like being live on YouTube.
I'm lucky to be here because I had an issue last last night coming through your customs, I got delayed I got sent to the back room for a couple hours.
It turns out that when I was explaining to them why am coming into our country the person did not think, he did not understand why there would be someone studying coyotes in cities he had never heard of such a thing.
He definitely didn't understand why someone would go to different cities and talk about this stuff.
He also didn't understand why the city of Ottawa would have any interest in having me come and speak about this subject area, so he didn't believe that part and then the final part he didn't believes that even thank time I will be giving a presentation to the general public and he said who would want to hear your give any kind of topic.
So I had no chance at all.
I was a could send him a picture.
So then I did notice he didn't believe anything I told and he did he's told me over and over again he says I don't think you're being forthright and they're being truthful and I did start to think well out there something about me - I may give off this very shady kind of character or something which is kind of disappointing because you like to think of yourself as being very honest looking person and maybe I have the wrong view of myself.
I was thinking about this last night and I thought that will only be talking about a pretty controversial animal, a lightning rod for people's emotions always deal with us every time I talk about this animal there's always some people that really love them a lot of people really don't love them.
I'm gonna be talking about them and just to get this out there I will do everything I'd talk about will be the truth. As far as I know.
I'll be sharing with you results from my research.
And as Amy mentioned I've been very fortunate to be the PI of a long term project is very rare to for any animal and to be able to study them continuously for 2 decades and have that kind of support and we have had that kind of support it's been pretty amazing and I will be sharing with you what the things that we've learned.
Everything I talk about is totally supported by years of data.
In some cases it's more years in other cases it's less if it's a new subject area.
I promise you that that's what I'll be talking about if there's something we don't know I will say we don't know that.
Even from giving up the shady appearance at least the information on the sides as was trustworthy.
What I'm gonna do is start off I need to talk a little bit about the animal itself.
I'm going to test this to see if it works.
We'll talk a little bit about the coyote just a couple characteristics so that we're on the same page.
Every time now I have to give a talk there's always this question about what kind of coyote do we have here.
Definitely up here in the northeast there's a lot of talk about in articles in shows about coywolves or a different kind of coyote that you might have seen.
I have to talk about that first because some of you will be saying well you study coyotes in Chicago what does that have to do with these huge humongous scary animals we have up here.
I'll touch the ultimate first once we understand we're talking about the same animal then I will share with you some things we learned about them in Chicago.
A lot of that will start off with the ecological stuff.
The idea here is the if you understand more about how the animal functions and works, then you can actually understand why certain actions and responses are more effective than others when we talk about the last part which is the actual confilcts we will get the conflicts.
And those often that's why people are here this one coyotes and well how do you get rid of him.
How do I protect my dog.
The we have to go through this other stuff before we can get to that, so you just have to bare with me, but we will get to that.
The coyote is a uniquely north American species it's not found in other parts of the world.
Prior to European colonization that was basically the ancestral range of of coyotes.
They were western species especially a wide open space kind of species, but then in the last 50 to 60 years they've expanded the range to take over most of North America and in fact I haven't updated that slide I've been showing that same side for almost 20 years now and I've cut off parts of Canada there.
In fact I cut of part of my own study area over Nova Scotia.
Nova Scotia and Newfoundland definitely have coyotes.
They're found everywhere from the Arctic Circle down.
In fact, in the most recent years they are expanding the range even further.
You think well how can that be, there's not much left, but they just crossed the Panama Canal.
Now there's a whole new kind of environment just waiting for coyotes to come in.
And that'll be an interesting story down south.
That huge expanse of in that range expansion during those decades took place also during the decades where especially in the US we had the greatest amount of predator control and removal taking place.
And more coyotes are killed in any other mamillian predator even though the the targets wolves and mountain lions and bears, more coyotes were killed but unlike those larger kind of animals that were actually exterminated from most of the west, coyotes increased in number.
It's an important lesson there and even today we're still talking about coyotes and that's a current picture.
Over in the US we have a federal agency USDA Wildlife services in charge or is charged with the responsibility of controlling predators for livestock predation.
So they kill about 80,000 coyotes or a little bit more each year that's reported and is probably more that aren't for one reason or another.
In addition to the the the governmental agency that we have, the actual fur harvesting and hunting takes place in most states.
It's year round hunting you can you can kill coyotes any day of the year.
You can you can kills many as you want.
There's for game animal they are the least protected animal in the states.
And of course if your bounties and things like that.
If we just look it pelts that are turned in and you're looking at a little over 300,000 annually but that's not including all the animals that are not turned in terms of pelts it's an underestimate.
These numbers don't include all of the the nuisance kills inadvertent kills and other things and there's thousands of those as well.
Then finally if you combine all those together and you put in a few other finagle factors most people agree that somewhere between 500,000 to 800,000 coytoes are killed every year in North America.
They handle that just fine.
That's no problem for coyotes.
They don't need that kind of, any kind of protection.
That's what's going on in fact I'm not responsible for this estimate I haven't verified it I haven't done the math but it does seem about right that roughly a half a million killed it's about one every minute throughout the year.
That's the kind of pressure that they're experiencing from us on a regular basis and they've been experiencing out for many many decades.
What we've done is we created in an animal that was already well adapted for that kind of persecution even before European colonists came here but we've made it even made them better and they're really good at it.
And it also primed them to be able to exploit new novel environments like cities.
So that's a picture of one of our our urban animals mousing and they're really good at variety of different things but hunting and chasing rodents is actually one of the best things that they do.
That does make up most of their diet across the range including in city's.
But it's a good example I want to show you one of our animals mousing.
This is gonna be just outside of what we call Medieval Times.
That's a restaurant that's a castle and if you've ever heard of Medieval Times but this is the medieval times coyote.
She is mousing across from the parking lot.
I'll start it I want you to know this is an in the middle of winter and when I start this video she's looking for rodents well she's listening for them look at the snow.
The snow's completely undisturbed and then this is what she does.
She can't see anything.
When they're in the mood and when the food is good when it's a good year, that's a vole, that's their favorite rodent, they can take about one vole every 15 minutes or sometimes markets around a wood pile.
That's an urban coyote but they still have those skills they're really good what they do.
They're also the perfect size for having a very broad niche.
If they were smaller say about a fox size they would have to live off of rodents exclusively which is what they're capable of doing many of them do that.
If they were bigger than a coyote, they put wolf size now they have to kill big things and they can't live off of small things for any length of time.
But because of the perfect size energetically, they can live off of a wide range of prey items and they do.
Voles are their favorites.
This is an alpha pair of animals or in our study area in Chicago.
They killed that doe.
The doe is perfectly healthy the 2 of them together took her down and I'm not you those pictures because it's never pretty when canids kill, but they're capable of doing that and this is again and in the Chicago area.
They're doing it to a certain extent here in the northeast as well.
They're nich is even bigger than deer though.
These are actually pictures of another project that I conducted in Cape Breton island in Nova Scotia.
This is a few years ago and we're just starting to publish some papers from that.
That's where there is a series of major conflicts between coyotes and people there.
We did study and we realize we found on Cape Breton island in the island in the national park the primary food item was moose.
That's a picture of me in the winter there with a moose leg.
And that moose that they killed that winter and it's a 900 pound animal.
Usually it's only 2 or 3 of them that's doing it.
They're not packing up like wolves but it's usually about the pair.
They use certain tricks to do it.
I don't have time to go into that.
That's actually a moose that was stuck in the snow they become vulnerable to coyotes that way.
And gray seals never been documented for but they were the attacking gray seals that's a 400 pound seal.
Basically there's a certain technique that they use I'm not going to go into it it's not pretty but it's just an example of how adaptable they are in terms of exploiting new novel food sources such as what what we might see a note in the city.
In a few years ago it was actually a Canadian production company.
That filmed this a documentary and I was in it actually.
They came to Chicago and then I also we're in Nova Scotia for a little bit.
I didn't know, well the title I was originally told was going to be was not that.
After the fact a suit picked up on it with some of the questions but anyway.
This is the documentary that came out.
It really kind of started this process of introducing this term "coy wolves" into the literature and it's been a frustration for us scientists ever since.
The deal about this is that as coyotes expanded the range to the east, they either went south of the Great Lakes or went north of the Great Lakes.
At some point when they went north of the Great Lakes there was an ancestral interbreeding that took place and what came out of the back end was primarily coyotes with a tiny bit of of Algonquin wolf gene.
I don't know I don't mean to be disrespectful but your Algonquin wolves are not very big.
They are on the tiny side.
Even though it's a wolve gene it's a tiny wolf.
Everyone takes a bit makes a big deal out of this first of all that little the the percentage that's wolf is very small and of that, it's a small wolf.
People need to get you know kind of move past full sized thing because it's exaggerated.
That's we call them eastern coyotes.
It turns out that now that there's been some recent genetic work what they found is a basically all coyotes east of the Mississippi all the way down to the southeast of the US have a small amount of wolf DNA and varying degrees of dog DNA.
Your coyotes have a small amount of dogs DNA as well.
The point is is that the coyotes they may have a little bit of this a little bit about but there are all coyotes.
Even our Chicago coyotes.
Our Chicago coyotes are the same size as yours.
How big is it? We're talking about average size is somewhere between for females low thirties, males maybe around mid thirties.
Pounds sorry 14 kilograms something like that 13 or 14 kilograms.
They can get up to the mid forties the largest one I've ever pounds sorry, the largest one I've ever handled was in Chicago was 49 pounds and that was a giant animal.
I had to stand on a chair to weigh him because I couldn't get him off the ground.
The tiniest coyote I've ever for its age the tiniest coyotes I've handled, I've trapped myself and handled, came from that study in Nova Scotia.
Those are supposed to be the big bad eastern kind and it was so small.
The Parks Canada biologist refused to take a picture of me with that.
The point is there's just a lot of size ranges even within a population you can have a big coyotes you can have a little coyotes.
No one ever calls me and tells me "I saw the tiniest coyotes I've ever seen".
Real quick if you wanna see what it looks like it's the Mississippi River that section of the division here.
Coyotes to the east of the Mississippi River are the ones that have varying degrees of a small percentage of wolf or dog or both.
Including our Chicago animals.
In terms of size you won't be able to see this very well, you don't really need to.
These are actually average weights of coyotes taken from different parts of the continent including Canada and I just have them structured by region and you don't have to see the individual ones, just note that it is true that the northeast does have on average, heavier larger coyotes and then they get much smaller when you go to the southwest that's true.
It's mixed up in its there's a lot of overlap between the midwestern kind it's again does that are east of the Mississippi and your northeast.
In fact my Chicago animals are not in there yet.
I'll put them in right now.
They're on the left hand side there in the following on right along pretty nicely with your northeastern coyotes.
They're about the same size.
We're talking about the same animal, but ecologically they may function differently depending on what's available to them.
They can be doing different things but it's still basically the same animal.
As they expanded the range then moved down that and filled up every gap on the eastern part of North America and now they're filling in the last remaining gap and that would be the urban cities.
This is a relatively new phenomenon for parts of of North America.
From the central part to the eastern part it's not that new in the southwest.
That's what we're focusing on.
This is Chicago and I'm not going to go through all these but as Amy mentioned we've been conducting this research for the last 20 years and we're addressing a wide range of different questions and we have been for quite awhile.
Some are older some are newer and you won't be able see these but population dynamics, their space use, their parasite or disease dynamics, their diet is a really important component I'll talk about that in a second and their social structure we'll talk about that because that's actually related to some of the conflicts that you have especially this time of year.
The ecological role - how do they affect other species.
Then the population genetics and finally the newest thing that we're focusing on now what's hopefully I'll have a little bit of time at that and to get to it we'll see 5 time it's been a real syndromes and whey I say behavioural syndromes I'm talking about personalities.
We're trying to measure personalities of individual coyotes.
The ideas is that the personality is actually genetically determined type of behaviour and the idea or the question is do cities tend to select for a certain kind of personality and over time you start to see more of the of a certain kind of personality than another? That's what we're trying to do right now.
These questions are kind of the basic ones and we want to know how to coyotes live in the cities? How do they do that? And what does that mean for us when they do? What's the risk for people and pets and then the the co existence versus conflict how much of it's about is actually taking place?
If we have time, another part that we've been focusing on quite a bit it's not just the risk that they pose for us but also what benefits to the pose.
No one really talks about that and part of it is that it's a sad fact that for many mammilian predators, the funding that's available to do work on them is driven by conflict.
It's very it's very hard to get funding to look at the ecological role that a predator.
It's a little better for the charismatic species like the loans to lesser extent wolves but for something like a coyote it's not that charismatic it's hard to get funding to look at the ecological role or the potential services are provided.
But we have been doing that.
My funding agencies allowed me to diverge a little bit here there and over the years we've chipped away at it and maybe I'll be able to maybe touch on a little bit tonight if you let me.
How do we do our work?
We live trap the animals we used to stand the same kind of techniques that the fur trappers use.
The same kind of traps.
They are modified to reduce any potential injuries to the animals.
We take them to the lab and we measure of a variety of things.
This is an animal in a trap about to be processed.
We we take them out of the the area that's a thing that you have to do in urban settings because it can't process an animal out in in basically an open lab.
Up there we take them in, we measure them, weigh them.
That's my team and I'm about to get a fecal sample.
You'll notice that I'm at the proper end of the animal.
There's certain advantages to being in charge and that's one of them.
That's an animal getting measured and we look at the teeth.
The teeth tells a lot about the animal we can look at their health but also their age and and how well they're doing.
Another animal getting processed.
That one 's about to be released I would put a radio collar on them.
The radio collars basically open up a window into their life so that we can follow them but we can also document their survival in the mortality as well.
We tracked in a variety of different ways but old standbys still the one that we spend most of our time doing which is that's a VHF collar.
There's a team of people the track these animals day and night every week of the year.
We know a lot about how these animals move and now we also use GPS collar.
So satellites are tracking a subset of the animals.
Those in those collars are expensive in the data or expensive taking late though you will repent those we put those on animals that are downtown.
There is one I was jealous my team caught a beautiful male this morning and he is in a prime spot, right on the edge of the north and northwest side of Chicago.
Anyway that's the name of the get the GPS collars.
And then in addition to marking the adults, and we also go into the dens.
Coyotes are seasonal breeders and they only produce a single letter and it's always in the spring and late April and throughout most of May.
We're going into the dens once for each litter and micro chipping the the pups.
We do that for a variety of reasons.
One is to look at the reproductive rate of the population because coyotes scale their reproduction based off of resources as well as their own population densities.
We also are curious about the social structure and mating system I'll talk more about that and second.
That looks like a really nice scenic natural setting for them to raise a litter.
If we turn the camera to the side, then that's what we see and they're actually raising letters within just a few meters of of people.
This is actually the most challenging thing for coyotes to do in an urban area is to raise a litter.
It's when they’re the most vulnerable.
Coyotes are never tied to a single point in space if they're healthy.
They don't use dens themselves unless they are hurt.
This is the one time and this is when they are most vulnerable.
It's also where you also tend to get a lot of conflicts too.
We'll talk about that a little bit later.
Here's just a few examples of pups just because a really cute.
This is just outside of O'Hare.
It's an industrial setting with those cement things.
That litter was horrible to try to get to.
We were literally calling through the concrete after these pups.
They always have their litters at the mid to late April.
Usually April is the prime months to some more urban pups and we we do a lot of things with them as well this is your typical 4 week old pup their eyes have been turned yellow yet and they haven't really devote their not expressing personalities are easy to handle.
At 5 weeks that's a 5 week old are beginning to look more like a coyote in their eyes are beginning to change this is another 5 week old.
Personalities are starting to be expressed by these guys within the letter you start to see some some bold and some side individuals and then that's a 6 week old pup and now it will look like a coyote.
At that age then they're going to be taken out of the den or they will themselves enough they'll begin following the parents about at that point and they will come back to the den after that that's it's 6 week window where they're really venerable and once they get to that stage I can't wait to get away from there.
Where are the parents? they're around they're definitely around and it just depends on which parents
you're talking about so some of them are more bold and so they will be standing there barking and pacing what we're what we're doing that most of the parents though, they're there just circling around but you don't see them.
but they are there you can hear them on the receiver on we can hear them because they're out there, we know that they're watching us but we can't see them.
They don't ever come after us no.
A good question.
In addition to all that I'm not gonna have time to really swing into this with the other little thing that we do, that you may or may not see everyone's on a program this these pop up every now and then we have collaborated with National Geographic.
And they send an engineer when you're to develop the special critter can put under the neck that tracks their face.
So where they are looking then they can we can see what they're saying what they're doing and.
This is what we're looking at.
This is a camera it's hanging down just below the chin of a female as she's walking.
It kind of allowed us to see certain parts of the coyote's life that you wouldn't be able to see and it's actually been kind of interesting and you know I won't be able to show you much of this but you will see these every once a while.
We have the National Geographic stamp on there.
We basically are able to
Again, we recorded those and then we send another National Geographic and they pick and choose what they want to use.
You'll see her snout coming down from above.
I will fast forward those for just a second.
But can do this.
Sorry I won't be able to do that but anyway, you get the the feeling here in terms of what we're able to do.
One of the cool things about this and we I'm not going to wait to get the service but we can separate scavenging from predation.
In this case in this video clip she'll eventually come across a bird and if you're using scat analysis for stomach content analysis to look at diet, bird would show up there and you would think you think because he killed a bird but they don't they're actually scavenging.
In this case is she finds a dead bird and then she procededs, this little songbird, she takes about 30 minutes to eat 1 leg.
She has to take every further off the bird.
We were laughing.
We're watching this is like ours is the serious? Is she really gonna pluck every feather off?
When it comes to birds they're really picky.
Now you'll notice that on that rodent, that vole, they don't care.
The whole thing goes down, but beacause it's a bird, they have to take every little thing off.
We're learning in a kind of useless things like that too.
This is where we're at.
We actually the animal that we caught this morning, I believe that was number 1290.
We're almost at the third of the 1300 coyotes that we captured and marked so far.
A large portion of those are the pups from this litter, but we've also captured a lot of the adults.
It's a massive study.
Then there are a couple couple dogs and a couple of people unfortunately.
That's just working in urban areas.
Real quick, some details.
Even though you often see coyotes alone they are a packed animal.
They do live together in groups it's just that they don't spend a lot of time together.
The howling that you hear is actually really important in terms of maintaining the social cohesion of an animal that often is not able to see each other.
It's the territorial defence is probably the most important aspect of them then living together in groups they rarely come together as a group.
They are territorial.
This is an example of what we do.
Those red dots and those yellow dots, are the locations of an alpha male.
He's the dominant male of a group living and in a park on the northwest side of Chicago.
In the yellow locations are daytime and the red are night time and that that doesn't really matter.
I just want to see that just looking at it even from a distance it's really easy to see the delineation of their territory.
I mean they basically draw out for us.
That's how I guess faithful they are to their sites.
They patrol those edges.
Those that just happened to correspond with roads and it turns out in urban areas in particular, they use the roads to find those boundaries.
They also do the same thing on the country, although, in some cases it might be a road or also might be a fence line or it could be a stream or creek.
They're using features of the landscape took took mark and maintain their boundaries.
In this case roads are not a barrier for them at all physically, that male he could easily cross those roads, he could easily across them anytime of the day.
There's another reason why he doesn't.
For the most part is because of other coyotes.
Those red dots up there are his locations.
Then if we look to the south those yellow dots are the locations of an alpha individual of the neighbouring pack.
Then if we move over to the east, then those blue dots are the locations of an alpha animal over to the east, and they're all using the same roads for those boundaries.
It's also the social boundary that's keeping them from crossing the road.
It's not the difficulty of crossing on the road.
That's one part of the of the population.
That's the groups and that's the territorialism and they basically behave a lot like us.
You can't see it because we're up to high, but those are subdivisions are are communities that are adjacent or even within those territories.
In each one of those communities you have a house and have a yard.
Then those are all marked by property lines to varying degrees.
They're just doing the same things we do is just bigger.
Those are the territorial boundaries like I said they do it for us.
The another example this is within a large park.
They have increased in size.
The population in abundance.
How they do that often give up parts their territory to their adult offspring.
There's only one breeding pair in a group.
That's the the parents.
The other members of the group or their offspring and as they become sexually mature, then they have to leave.
These dots represent the mother and the son of the pack early in our study and at that time there were clearly together and they were sharing that territory.
The father was there as well.
Then after a year or so, another pack took over part of their territory and he became sexually mature.
He took over little tiny part of the original territory, his mom took over the the the northern part.
They separated and then eventually he basically lived, to became an alpha male, he lived in that area it's about 1 square kilometres for over a decade.
He had a single mate and they produce a variety of different litters and eventually his offspring became alphas in different parts of that same park.
Today, we actually have seven packs.
Of the 7 packs 5 of them are from his offspring.
Each one of those colours represents another pack.
Originally the park was one single pack.
Now again we have 7.
This is another picture of the most recent grouping so, again even when they're really packed together like this, even when the densities are super high they still maintain their territorialism.
Even when the neighbours are their relatives they still maintain their territorialism.
It's a very strong feature of the behaviour.
Not each dot.
The dots represent the location of that animal.
The colour represents an animal.
That colour represents 3 to 5 individuals, that's their territory.
If you're looking at 7 colours are you looking at 35 minimum coyotes and that's not counting pups.
There's actually 60 to 70 coyotes in there.
Real quick, howling is one of the ways that maintain these territories as well as marking.
They spend a lot of time doing that marking and I won't go into all the details about how, but we've actually done a lot of research on that.
Not all coyotes howl at the same rate and other howling bouts actually kind of, they sounds chaotic, but they're actually pretty ordered.
There's certain types of communication that are transferring, but I'm not gonna go into that.
This time of year is actually really important to them.
This is a big month for coyotes.
Here's a alpha pair, they are actually tied.
They're just like dogs.
I don't know if you've had the good fortune or misfortune depending on how you look at having a dog mate, well they get tied together and that's what's happening here.
The do have another thing in common with us, in addition to the territorialism they become romantic at the same time that we do.
It turns out that this part of North America their mating area peaks right around February 14.
And I told you, I'm only telling you facts.
I'm not making things up.
It's not just a bad joke.
That's actually the truth.
But their hormone levels begin increasing in preparing for this event weeks in advance.
They actually start for the males, will start in December.
Testosterone levels will start to build up and they'll start producing sperm in January in preparation for the female coming into estrus.
Female, her hormone levels are sifting altering quite a bit.
She's only going to become, like a dog, only come into estrous for a few days.
And that's it, that's it for the mating.
At other times of the year after the done, hormone levels drop and they can't mate even if they're in the mood.
This is it.
It's a really important time.
This is one reason why they're extremely territorial and you may have a an increase in some conflicts.
A characteristic of the dog family is that they are behaviourally monogamous.
Monogamy is not common in the mammilian world.
Most mammals are not monogamous at all.
They want to try may with as many partners as possible.
The Canaanites, the wolves, the coyotes and the foxes are behaviourally monogamous.
It turns out that when, just like with birds which also be heavily monogamous, once geneticists started testing one they find all kinds of cheating going on.
Actually the monogamy becomes even more rare once the geneticists get into it.
No one had looked at coyotes.
They looked at foxes and they looked at wolves and ensuring there are plenty of cheating that goes on with those.
Foxes as are the worst.
If you want to look at it that way.
The highest levels of cheating goes on with especially red foxes.
They're just crazy.
I just showed you maps of our animals and that's just one example across Chicago.
We're seeing these territories just packed right next to each other and we also solitary animals that are floating through.
There's all kinds of opportunities to cheat.
I mean if they want to have multiple partners they don't have to go very far.
We expected to find, just like every other study has found for monogamous species, to find cheating going on and we thought that this is a perfect test.
That's not what we found.
It's the largest genetic studies been done for coyotes and in fact for canines in general.
There's an alpha pair we happen to catch them together.
It is quite common touch to catch a pair at the same time because they don't want to leave each other.
One of them gets caught the other one stays and often gets caught as well or they're there when we when we show up.
They can actually ride in the same cage together because they're so tight.
what we found, we genotyped almost 900 animals.
It's a really huge sample.
Over 300 have been genotyped.
and of those three-hundred pups, it makes up almost 70 litters.
That was over a year ago.
We're even above that now.
This would be about an 18 year period.
What we found was that of all of that, we found no evidence of any kind of cheating, no what we call extra pair parentage at all.
We also found that the longest mate pair was over a decade long.
In fact, we never documented a divorce.
We still haven't documented divorce.
There's no voluntary separation of an alpha pair.
Only when one of them dies will one take on another mate.
What does that mean to me? It's a pretty fascinating thing, and this is not a major objective of our research, it is not what we're getting funded, I have to be careful about how much time you spend on this but just think about the vast majority of the animals that we've monitored are only going to mate with one animal in their life.
One animal in their life.
That means that you better be really careful about who you pick.
There must be some major mate selection going on but we have no idea what they're doing.
I have no idea.
They could be random.
We do know that they're not related.
We've only document of one alpha pair that shared a relatedness with each other.
All the rest of them are the only unrelated individuals in the pack.
They do avoid that to some extent.
They also occasionally will adopt.
Here's an example of den sharing where the alpha pair somehow ended up with other pups in their den.
So it's still monogamy they were actually the parents of the little tiny pups.
Actually four the little ones and three of the bigger ones.
We've documented that occurring at least three different times now.
They have a really strong parenting instinct both the female and the male.
Very strong parenting instincts.
It's not surprising that they would readily take on another pup if they didn't realize
it's not their own.
I mentioned that they can scale the reproduction based on resources, so this is an example.
This is very typical of our litters in Chicago.
You'll find this is typical in many cities where resources are really abundant.
So that's a litter of 11 pups.
Again genetically tested so they're all coming from a single female and a single male.
That's an example of what a monogamous species can do.
The female doesn't have to raise all those completely by herself, the male's helping.
In fact the subordinates are helping as well.
If they weren't monogamous, so for example if you look at a litter of raccoons or a litter of Bobcats, those are solitary animals the male provides no help, subordinates provide no help.
Their litter sizes are small.
Four animals typically for a cat, for a bobcat, four to five would be typical for a raccoon.
It's only what the mother or herself can raise because they're monogamous they can actually pull off huge litters.
And that's one reason why we haven't been able to exterminate them.
Finally before I move on, we have the different colours.
So I mentioned that we have a little bit of mix of a tiny bit of wolf and dog because they can interbreed so they share the same number of chromosomes.
This is from our litter these are all related they're all littermates, they have the same parents but you see a striking difference in coloration.
Brindle pups in that particular one.
The male was brindle he's the only brindle we've had that that's a sign of the historic or ancestral breeding with dogs with that dark colour.
It's been rare.
That was one of the few examples that we have.
The question would be why don't we have more coy dogs? or that hybrid between coyotes and dogs in a city that has in our case we have over 300,000 dogs just in Cook County alone?
Why wouldn't that be more common?
Well there are reasons why we don't.
In the US and in Canada as well I mean most of your dogs are fixed in the cities.
The physical differences in some breeds and coyotes will prevent all that kind of breeding.
It's just hard for some breeds they're just too tiny or whatever.
Then dogs with owners are not free-ranging so the coyotes for the most part are going to avoid dogs with people.
The biggest thing is the dogs are not seasonal breeders.
Dogs come into heat at any time of the year.
I mentioned coyotes are only physically able to make during a very small window.
It has to be time just perfectly.
There's other reasons the hybrids are less vigorous, the sperm and they're asynchronized so they actually come into breeding condition out of season.
That's another kind of barrier between them.
Then I'd like to say that coyotes have standards.
So we just talked about that.
I showed you parks and these animals being territorial in parks, they're not restricted to parks, so they also live out in the developed areas.
These are packs living among people.
You'll notice the way that they use them a lot different so there's gaps and so they're trying to use every bit of green space that can find, and avoiding the areas that are used by people as much as possible.
That's what you see in other parts of the landscape.
This is what it looks like at night.
For them to be able to get from green space or green space, they have to become nocturnal.
This is one of our coyotes 571 who lives in a completely developed are or she did.
This is just her at night trying to avoid people as much as possible.
I'd like to show this because most of these people have no idea about the coyote in the neighborhood.
These people are actually inadvertently feeding the coyote with food on the front porch and I don't know if you can see but that's a cat staring at that coyote.
So the cat knows there's a coyote there but the people don't.
So this is what we see every night.
This is an example of coyotes avoiding people.
They've restricted their activity to night which they don't normally do in rural areas and then even at night they're trying to avoid people as much as possible.
Like what she's going to do here.
This is coyote number one.
This is me recapturing her ten years later.
She started the project off in March of 2000 and fortunately just by fluke, she also happens to be one of the longest living pilots in our study.
We've followed her throughout her whole life for almost 12 years.
This is me.
It was darn hard to recapture her by the way.
The point why I'm picking her out, besides the fact that she was very long lived, is this is where she lived she lived among people for over a decade.
Those pink dots are her locations during about six months of the last year of her life and that's again the community that she lived on for over a decade.
She had one mate in her life.
That's her mate.
He's affectionately called melon head, or he was, because he have this big head.
They had a variety they had eight different litters and so they produced about 70 pups between the two of them, all living among other people.
These are his purple locations.
You can see that they are perfectly lined up they were always together and then she died of natural causes,she had kidney failure and then he he upgraded and got a younger mate.
He was able to get one more litter out before he also died of natural causes too.
This is him during his last year of life.
That's a 12 year old coyote.
You don't see 12 year old coyotes in the natural world very often.
This is after he had lost his mate he was just, he had just taken on new one.
This is another Canadian film crew.
This is a videographer that set up a blind.
He's actually living in a marsh right behind a Walmart.
It looks like a natural area but that's a Walmart.
He wanted to film one of our animals I said well this guy is living in a marsh completely surrounded by people so just set up your blind and should be able to get him.
So, he's set up his blind and that's the first morning at 6 o'clock in the morning he was still setting up his camera and he realized, he looked up when that film started that was the start of his filming because Melon Head was already staring at him.
He already knew he was there.
This is his reaction.
I just I'm spending valuable time on this to point out that one of the things that we've been looking at over the years is: are these animals that have been living among people year after year after year, raising litters year after year after year, are they losing the fear of people?
He's an example of an animal that never did.
I mean he's passed now, but he never lost his fear.
His pups all grew up and never showed a change.
Some of them do.
It's more because of feeding so if they're not getting fed, it is possible for them to live among people without conflicts.
Finally I'm moving downtown.
I've been out in suburbs now we're gonna move into this urban core.
This is the last phase the last six years and what we've reallybeen focusing on because no one had done any work on coyotes in the urban core of a major metropolitan area.
This is the same Chicago area at night and you can see just visually I like it because you can see that the urban core, the downtown area, is you could argue that the ecosystem is different there than it is in the suburbs.
Maybe the Coyotes, maybe they can't even live there or if they are living there are they doing something completely different.
We moved down there it was very hard to do and we're still doing that.
I mentioned that guy that we caught this morning is on the north side of Chicago.
Here's an example of the map.
If we move over to the right that's when we're moving into the urban core.
Those are territories of those super urban coyotes and this is what it looks like.
Just zooming in for some of those packs.
Some of those alpha animals.
They still maintain their territorialism but the way that they move through the landscape becomes even more linear.
I could imagine that it's a place like Ottawa you have some nice linear features to it that might move quite a bit similarly.
This is the territory of coyote 748 one of our super urban animals.
They actually raised a litter right across from Soldier Field, this NFL stadium.
That little picture of that coyote that's on top of the parking garage across from the stadium and the Sears Tower is in the background.
They raised a litter on top of that parking garage.
It's just an example of how adaptable they are.
In terms of survival rates I'm not going to go exactly into all these numbers, but in general your your typical urban coyote, because they're not hunted and trapped in cities, immediately experiences a higher survival rate.
For our animals that annual s represents the proportion of animals that survive a year and so it's somewhere between 60 and 70% for coytoes that's a huge number.
If you were out in the country, in say the the Midwestern U.
We have hunting and trapping, the survival rate is 33% so it's half of what our adults are.
Then if you go down to the bottom, our pups the survival rate of pups is about 60% during the course of the year.
In a rural environment or they exposed to hunting and trapping it's only 13% only 13% so you can imagine that life is really good for coyotes in an urban setting.
One of the reasons why they have such a high survival rate is that they learn how to cross roads.
I'm not going to go into all the details about how we analyze that, but we can actually model that.
We can actually calculate the risk that each coyote has in terms of being hit by a car.
For example, those polygons are packs they're living just outside of O'Hare.
If we overlay the road system, you can see the different packs have a different number of roads that they might have to cross as they're going through their territory.
So you would imagine that they have different levels of risk or different probability of getting hit by a car.
I can tell you that not only for these animals but across Chicagoland, they all have the exactly the same probability of getting hit which is low.
It doesn't matter how many roads that have in their territory, it doesn't matter what their traffic volumes are, they scale their ability to move across roads based on risk.
They all have the same level of risk.
Here's an example of one of those uber urban animals crossing roads.
This is at night because they have to be nocturnal.
This is our Lincoln Park animal and they have to use the sidewalks and the roads just like we do.
This is her going down one of the sidewalks and in just a second she's gonna cross the road in front of us.
This is a just one block off of a major thoroughfare.
There's not much traffic here so this is not this is not too exciting.
She can easily move across and not worry about traffic here, but the next frame, so there she moved in front of us the next frame.
She's going to actually move across a very busy road this is just off of Lakeshore Drive.
To do that it's just going to take a different approach.
Here she's been across the road she's gonna move over to the sidewalk actually, approaches that street and you may or may not be able to see this but there's the traffic's coming from one direction as she approaches that stop sign she's looking to the left in the direction of the oncoming traffic.
In this case, the traffic is a constant flow so she saw a gap and so she shot across immediately.
She did not hesitate.
I'm gonna show you a different strategy.
This is the same animal same night a different part of our territory.
You're gonna see a guy passing us on a bicycle.
He's staring at us because of we have a big antenna coming off the top of our truck.
Right behind him is her she's been sitting there watching the traffic and she waited until it was stopped at the light.
Then she could cross on her own.
That's the same animal you just saw using a completely different strategy for a different road.
Where there's stoplights she knows she doesn't have to hurry across she just has to wait at the corner just like all of us, so they do learn how to do this.
Real quick on diet.
I showed you at the very beginning that rodents make a large part of our or their diet.
That's true pretty much everywhere.
That's the stomach content from a single coyote in our area.
It's nine rodents.
That's a big part but our big question is human foods: like how much are they relying on us for their food both in terms of our refuse as well as for our pets?
There's a variety of different techniques for doing that.
We're the first study to actually use a technique called unstable isotopes.
What we can do is we can snip a whisker from their muzzle, one whisker and we can section that whisker into little sections and we could analyze each one of those little sections for their diet.
By doing that we can actually look at an individual animal where we know their age, their sex, their size, their condition and we can follow their diet through the length the window of time that takes to grow that whisker.
We can look at each section to see if it's recent diet or old diet.
I'm not going to go into a lot of detail here, but it turns out that we look at carbon and nitrogen (carbon is on the x-axis) that's the important one because our human foods are all carbon-based.
More specifically it's corn based.
That's a different signature than natural foods for them.
Those gray circles are their food items and where they show up on the isotopes and what we wanted to see our human foods different on that x-axis then the natural foods.
It turns out all of those great things over on the left that's all natural food.
Then what's over on the right is all human food or pets.
That polygons up on the top are pets.
Those little coloured dots scattered around there are individual coyotes.
Where they fall out on that landscape reflects what their general on diet item was.
Now that's just pooled across their segments.
So, there's more detail there, but the point is is that we show that there are some coyotes that
are using human foods, some of them are on the right-hand side of that line, that line that goes down the middle is what we call the anthropogenic line or the human food line.
There are some coyotes that are eating over there but many of them, the majority, are still eating natural foods even in the most urban parts.
These are the urban animals the ones that are really downtown and you can see that there's a huge range.
Some of them are eating human foods others are eating natural foods.
You'll see up at the top rats.
None of them are eating rats.
We have yet to document a single coyote eating a city rat.
We wish they would but they don't and it's actually it's probably pretty smart for them because there's a huge rodenticide program in Chicago to poison rats.
It's probably a good move on their part.
I just want to point out a couple of quick things.
These are two animals 740 and 748.
You actually saw one of them, 748, he's a super urban one that was raising the litter on top of the garage.
His diet is almost exclusively rabbit.
He has a completely urban, the most urban, territory you can have and yet his food is almost completely rabbit.
On the other hand you have 740 over on the right-hand side his diet is basically human or pretty close to human.
That's 740 and I caught him in a cemetery and I've shown you all these maps or all these extensive movements that these animals have made.
He got one of those really expensive $5,000 GPS collars because we thought he would be moving through the city.
This is just on the north side of the city and it turns out that he never left the cemetery.
So that's like thousands of dollars spent all in that cemetery.
The reason and this is really important, the reason was that he's getting food.
He was getting fed by two little old ladies that adopted him and they put food out for him every day they honked their horn and he eventually will come out and eat, but he's also never lost his fear of people surprisingly.
That's what happens if you feed them you change their movement patterns and all of a sudden they are focused in a certain area thought they were not necessarily focused in before.
That's an example of that this is 740 again he's the one eating rabbits in a completely urban environment.
So you can't predict necessarily what their diet is depending on where they are.
Let me see.
Here's an example of some of that urban life.
Here's an alpha pair.
That's the metro train and that makes up the boundary for their territory.
That coyote in there is actually one of the Alpha pairs and they're marking.
That's this time of year and so that's the, yeah, the female is marking.
She's the heavier one and then the male is gonna come and mark on top of her just to give you an example of again the monogamy is expressed in terms of really tight bond.
So he's going to mark on top.
Right off of the metro.
Let me see.
This another alpha pair this is over by Lincoln Park.
You'll see one of them she's actually taking a poop right on the street and the mate is in the background.
They're actually, they're marking on the roads just like they're traveling and that's how they maintain their territorialism.
And among people.
Again that's also at night.
Then one last one and then here.
They have been getting fed by people so this is if.
We have to pick one.
I'm going to transition to conflicts real quick.
If we have to pick one particular item that is most important in terms of contributing to conflicts between coytoes and people its food.
In some cases it's people that are intentionally feeding coyotes and in other cases it's unintentional feeding.
So this will be unintentional.
This is one of our favorite coyotes going to get fed by people inadvertently this is at night.
It looks like daytime, but that's an example of inadvertently feeding them.
What happens is that when they're fed, then they change their behaviour.
If it's, if it takes place over and over again they will start seeing people in places as sources of food as opposed to something to avoid terms of conflicts.
Through 2018 less than four percent of our animals generated any complaints whatsoever.
So it means 96 percent of them are living among people and doing what they're doing without even getting a complaint.
Generally a complaint in most cases it was just simply being seen at the wrong place at the wrong time.
We've only only 1% actually created a severe conflict like attacking a dog so it's pretty rare.
They do take cats.
This is your classic case of maybe a coyote living in a neighborhood is when a cats go missing.
I don't have time to talk about much we did a massive cat study and I was telling someone earlier it's a more complicated than that cats are actually pretty smart and they actually figured out where coyotes are if they're outside a lot if they're indoor/outdoor cats they don't have an opportunity to.
Kind of what's going on with coyotes.
So they're a bit more vulnerable.
The more important conflicts start with dogs.
This is the time of year when we do see a spike in coyote attacks on dogs.
Medium to large sized dogs, generally, are not hurt that badly either usually or nicked up a little bit if it happens.
Most of time it's not.
So what we found is that they're not using dogs as food.
They're basically, their instinct is to remove a competitor so if this is a natural environment coyotes definitely kill foxes or they remove foxes because they're competitors, not because of food.
It could be defensive.
Sometimes dogs attack coyotes and so you can have a conflict there.
Then again it's rarely for food.
This is the seasonality of the coyote attacks on dogs.
There's a big spike in February.
There's another little spike in April.
We have litters and then there's a drop-off, and then it starts increasing again in the winter.
This is the time again when there are territorial instincts are the strongest.
Here's a quick list of some of the breeds in Chicago that have been attacked by coyotes and the numbers reflect, I think it was a 16 year period. where they documented these.
What I want you to notice is that the smaller dogs tend to be more frequent especially small noisy dogs like the Shih Tzu's and the terriers.
It's not restricted to small dogs.
There are some large breeds up there.
There can be under certain circumstances a larger dog being attacked by a coyote as well.
In the most extreme form of conflict is when they attack people and it's rare when it happens though it does happen.
This is actually data that we analyzed a few years ago on a paper and we're again as they move into cities you get to see a bit more of a higher frequency of attacks on on people.
In most cases are very minor but there have been a few cases of more serious attacks.
Coyotes bite people for a wide range of reasons.
What we found there some of them are because of rabies.
There was a recent rabies case in the States over in New Hampshire that was a coyote attacked three different people, that it was infected with raccoon strain of rabies.
It can be pet related, so it often what happens in fact this happened over in Chicago last year there's a altercation between a dog and a coyote and the owner tries to protect the dog and gets bitten.
There's predatory so that is unprovoked attack on a usually small child, so there are predatory attacks and then there's one called investigator that we came up with we didn't know what to call it these are cases where the coyote and the person seemed to be mutually surprised when they getting up.
They're always minor and usually it's when the person is lying on the ground asleep.
So they're lying on the ground asleep and the coyote comes along and bites them and they wake up and it scares the crap out of both of them.
There's a wide range of reasons why my coyotes might bite someone, it's not always the same.
In terms of preventing this again food is one of the biggest issues.
Pet management is a big one so especially this time of year.
You want to keep pets on leash, especially if you're walking them around green spaces.
At least have them in view of you so that you can scare coyotes off if they happen to to be in the picture.
If they are a small dog you can always, if there's a coyote around, you can pick up your dog and and walk away.
Hazing is always a good idea.
Hazing is is basically acting large toward the animal.
Not running away.
That's the opposite of hazing.
Yelling at them, shaking, we've used coffee cans filled with rocks or other things to scare a coyote away.
And then finally, this is an example of what happens when people feed coyotes.
That coyote, that is Justin my former grad student, he caught this coyote in this little marsh surrounded by a subdivision.
So you know what these maps are now, but those green dots are her locations over a one-year period.
Just look, there were no conflicts with her she avoided people's yards in fact none of those yards had any fences but she was doing everything she could to avoid people's yards for a year.
The only complaints about the Coyotes, and she was one member of a pack that was living in that Marsh, the only complaints was the noise they were making.
Because they howled.
So that was the biggest complaint.
She left that area.
Floated as a transient across the landscape and eventually settled in his cul-de-sac in a community.
Those red locations are just to her floating around and then she eventually settled down here.
So why did she settle down there?
It turns out that but there's a sequence of three houses that were all feeding wildlife.
I mean putting a lot of food out.
So that's a picture of her I'm taking a piece of bread they're putting out bread for raccoons.
This is actually, prior to this when she lived in that marsh without any conflicts, she was exclusively nocturnal and she avoided yards that's why there were no conflicts, but once she became older and she moved into this area where they're feeding animals she completely changed her behaviour and now she became a nuisance animal.
She was never aggressive, but she began to see their yards as a source of food so she spent all of her time around their yards and she became diurnal, she became active during the day.
So they wanted to have her removed.
So as an example of how feeding can change the behaviour of an animal and it goes from an an animal that totally avoided a people and all conflicts with them, to now all of a sudden it's taking the first steps toward conflict.
Feeding is, if you have to point to one thing, that's one of the most important things.
One that we have control over, so we can influence how much time coyotes spend in certain areas.
How much time do they spend, how close do they come to us and how do they behave toward us.
Those are all things that we can control.
Managing the pets.
The harassment coyotes.
This is just another video.
I'm going back to that critter cam.
This is a cemetery that had a, they closely regulated or they thought, wildlife feeding in that cemetery.
In other words they had signage telling people not to do that and when we went, I talke to the cemetery director I asked if we could trap and put up a critter cam on a coyote, she said absolutely we'd love to be able to see that.
She assured me there was no feeding going on in that cemetery.
The very first thing that we saw once we put that camera on an animal was that animal going to a spot that had dog food.
So they were doing everything they could, but there's a lot of feeding that takes place.
In this case it's intentional so that's, those are people are intentionally feeding coyotes.
That contributes to the conflicts.
When you do have an animal that becomes aggressive, often their only solution really it's to lethally remove it.
We definitely recommend that if they they're showing a repeated pattern of a lack of fear of people and they haven't bitten anyone.
They should think about possibly removing it.
If they've bitten someone then they should definitely be removed we don't we don't there's no data no one's ever done a study to see if you can change an animal's behaviour once they've gotten to the point where they attack someone.
No one wants to do that study.
Really quick, the bottom line here the coyotes are successful in cities, in spite of us, so no one introduced coyotes in the cities, no one's protected coyotes in cities, so they've come in.
In fact in Chicago and like every other city when they first appeared every municipality tried to get rid of them and all they did was succeed in being able to stay anyway.
So there it's just successful in spite of us but their ability to live with us relies on they're maintaining a certain level of fear.
We have to be able to maintain that fear and the public actually has a lot of have influence over that.
So as I mentioned, this is, we've had of a lot of support.
These are the short list of some of the people involved if you are interested in more information.
That's our website urbancoyotesearch.
So a lot of the stuff that I've talked about is even is there on even more detail.
At that it's that time I'll take questions.
If you want me to.
I know it's late.
yeah I mean it is almost 20 after 9:00, but if we have a couple of questions that I can well just see if we can get the microphone.
Right, so the question you're noticing the size of area that we reported you know it varies quite a bit.
It depends on where they are in the landscape.
Those downtown animals need more space, the ones that are in the really high high quality habitats in the suburbs need very little space, but we're still there's pushing the boundaries on how much, how little space can they get by on.
We're already exceeding in terms of the smallness of their territories anything that's been published in the literature.
So we have some that are living in an area that's less than one square kilometre in size.
That's a full pack raising litters.
That's the bare minimum there.
That's a high quality habitat.
Those urban animals what we've discovered is that if you just look at the usable space the green space within those highly urbanized sites it actually the it accumulates.
If you just look at that you measure out it ends up being about the same amount of space so it looks like there may be a minimum threshold for them, but again it's influenced by whether or not they're getting any human food or not.
Human food can make them shrink even further like that guy in the cemetery.
A few days ago a friend of mine told me about an episode with his labrador dog he let it out and there in a little green space and the dog didn't come back.
He went to find out what was going on and there were two coyotes standing over his dead body.
So they got a Labrador.
I didn't see a Labrador up when you're on your list there.
Just to comment about you're crossing the border episode.
I had the same problem going the other way and you know what I really think they're interested in.
But the one thing you don't say is I'm giving a talk because they're interested in how much money you're getting.
They think you're Barack Obama or somebody, you're getting three hundred thousand bucks and at least that's what that was my impression on the American side.
[Dr Stan Gehrt]
As an American these days I'm in no position to comment on other countries border policies at all.
Thank you for the talk.
It's very informative.
I was wondering what the strategies you have to dispel some dangerous myths surrounding coyotes for example during our denning season where there's the myth that's going around in social media that coyotes lure dogs to predate upon and make food for the litter which is a very dangerous myth.
I was wondering what kind of strategies you have to dispel those myths?
[Dr Stan Gehrt]
Strategies to dispel the myths?
All i can do is provide the information for people to try to be informed.
So we either like, in giving talks such as these, publishing the results that we have.
The social media is a difficult thing.
I don't really know I have a good answer for that.
That's a tough one that it's gonna take someone smarter than me to try and figure out how to battle that, but that's a really good example.
So that is a myth that has been around forever.
The Coyotes lure dogs in and then the pack is hiding around and in they attack the dog.
There is certainly behaviour that they exhibit that's similar to that and I can certainly understand where that myth comes from but in many cases what's just happening is that coyotes spend a lot of time by themselves but the pack mates are in proximity to them when they're chased by dog.
They're gonna go as close as fast they can to safety often there's other coyotes there already, and so it's not necessarily they're luring it that's just happens to be a coincidence that that's where they're taking them.
That myth will never go away and you'll never convince people, so I tell them that and they choose to not believe me so so I'm just trying.
At what point like you consider nuisance because right now we have coyotes are coming to our fence daily after our dog and we've done everything and this is daytime, morning, night, it doesn't matter the time of day.
We're seeing them five to six times a week like daily coming.
So at what point do you consider them a nuisance?
Second, we've done the like loud noises we've done everything and they still continue and they're not they're getting to the point where we can be within two three feet of our back fence before they'll take off like they're no longer afraid of us.
[Dr Stan Gehrt:]
Right well it's not it's not necessarily up to me to determine whether there are nuisance because I'm not the one that's living in your house.
It's not my dogs.
When I recorded those animals like the percentage that were nuisances that's those were coyotes that were reported as nuisances by the public.
I didn't determinate they're a nuisance.
It was the public determinants they were nuisance.
So you strictly decide when there are nuisance or when they're too much of a nuisance.
Not necessarily me.
It's also very difficult for me to make a decision like that when I'm not actually seeing what's the behaviour is actually taking place.
Sometimes people misinterpret what they're seeing and unless they describe something to me it may or may not reflect it so it's very hard for me to provide like a definite response when I'm not actually there.
But what I can say is that if it's something that you're if it becomes threatening and you're worried about it and that's something that you should be reporting to your animal control agencies.
Your neighbours, hopefully, they would also be reporting out and if there's a shift in their behaviour and they're becoming more aggressive then they may have to be removed.
Just know, and the one thing I didn't talk about when you do a removal it's always you want to try and understand why are they behaving that way because they will be replaced by other coyotes.
So if you don't understand what the root cause is, doing the removal itself may or may not answer that question.
So it's important to try and understand that.
You might check to see with neighbours and see if there's anyone that's actually doing anything that contributes to the problem as opposed to solution, such as inviting them into the problem onto their properties and things like that.
So often what we're finding is that a whole community and neighborhood everyone can be doing exactly the right things, it takes one or two people that aren't and then it's it basically minimizes all the work that you're doing.
And sorry, I don't have a better answer for you than that, but but if you're do you determine whether or not that they are nuisance not not me and it sounds like you have a building problem there.
Locally they if you didn't know where to call it would be 3-1-1.
I know and yeah we'll have to work on that.
If there's an imminent sense of threat then you know that it is a call for the police.
You know, if someone is feeling directly personally threatened then then it is a matter for the police.
And yes we would be talking about you know if there was an animal that attacked anyone within the city boundaries then we would be looking at addressing that obviously.
We're running very late but I know there were a couple people, so I'm just going to take two more questions, so I'm sorry everyone, we'll take two more questions after that it's up to Stan's goodwill.
I'll have a couple closing remarks after these last two questions.
Earlier you mentioned that in the Northeast coyotes were bigger than they were in the southeast.
Does that have to do because of the temperature?
Like it often gets more colder up northeast.
Is that one of the factors?
[Dr Stan Gehrt:]
Well, we don't know for sure, but most people are leaning more toward there's a there is a slightly higher percentage of the wolf gene in your northeast as opposed to the southeast so you usually attribute that that size difference to that, but we don't really know for sure exactly.
You do have a slightly higher percentage of wolf.
It turns out that even though that was historic, there is still some hybridization taking place in Ontario between our Algoniquin wolves and coyotes.
In fact it's one of the biggest threats to your Algonquin wolves is the breeding of coyotes.
There are some recent wolf genes being introduced as well.
First thank you for the really thoughtful an excellent talk.
North of Ottawa sort of north end of Gatineau Park and north of there there's talk of red wolves or Algonquin wolves there and overlap with coyotes as well, and I'm wondering if there's ways you can tell them apart through their vocalizations?
[Dr Stan Gehrt:]
Through the vocalizations?
I don't know.
So that's actually a really good question because we know that grey wolves and coyotes have dramatically different vocalizations and there's actually some reasons for that.
But the Algonquin wolves, I don't, I have not seen any actually measures to see how much how different they are so I don't have a good answer for that.
If you ever heard I'm sure you've heard wolves howl and coyotes.
We call wolves the opera singers of the canid world and the coyotes are the rappers.
I don't know where the Algonquin wolf is on that, which way they lean.
I'd like to thank you Stan.
Thank everyone for coming out tonight.
Unfortunately Councillor El Chantiry had to step out, but we're very grateful to all of you for coming downtown on such a snowy day.
We weren't sure what the weather would be at this time of year but it is an important time of year to talk about coyotes because as you've heard this is a big time of year for them and they're out there.
So we would just like to present Stan with a little token of our appreciation.
Thank You Stan and we hope thank you we hope you don't have any trouble getting it across the border
Coyotes have adapted to life in cities across North America. In many cases, their human neighbours may not even realize they’re around until they notice tracks in the snow, or hear their song at night. Some residents may be concerned about coyotes living among us, which is why it’s important to better understand how we can coexist safely together. For this 15th session of the Wildlife Speaker Series, the City has invited our inaugural speaker, Dr. Stan Gehrt, to return to Ottawa. He has been studying coyotes in the greater Chicago metropolitan area since 2000, which has led to many interesting discoveries about how coyotes interact with humans and other animals in different settings. The event will also feature displays by local organizations. We hope you can join us!
About our guest speaker
Dr. Stan Gehrt is Professor of Wildlife Ecology at The Ohio State University, and Chair of the Center for Wildlife Research at the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation. His research program focuses on various aspects of mammalian ecology, especially urban systems, and dynamics of wildlife disease, and human-carnivore conflicts. He is principal investigator of one of the largest studies of coyotes to date: capture and tracking over 1,000 coyotes for the past 20 years in the Chicago area. His research has been featured in numerous print, radio, and television outlets, including PBS, ABC Nightline, NBC Nightly News, National Geographic, and the History Channel.
For more information, contact:
Amy MacPherson, Planner
City of Ottawa
Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development
Tel.: 613-580-2424, ext. 14873
Fish Tales: An Exploration of Ottawa’s Underwater World - November 27, 2019
Date and time
Speaker: Dr. Steven Cooke, Carleton University
Times: 7 p.m. Aquatic Expo 8 p.m. Opening Remarks and Presentation
Admission: Donation of a non-perishable food item for the Ottawa Food Bank. As space is limited, admission is on a first come, first served basis.
Ottawa is defined by a vast network of rivers and streams, many of which flow right through our neighbourhoods and past our downtown landmarks. As you cycle or stroll along the banks of the Rideau Canal or enjoy sunset views of the Ottawa River, you may not give much thought to the aquatic life flourishing beneath the surface. Local anglers are familiar with the abundance and diversity of fish species found even in our most urbanized areas, but this mysterious underwater world remains hidden from sight to most casual observers. The City invites residents to learn about the variety of fish that call Ottawa home, from predatory muskies and bass to beautifully coloured minnows and darters, and the fascinating ways in which they survive and thrive in our waterways. This event features displays by local organizations and a presentation by prominent fisheries researcher Dr. Steven Cooke. We hope you can join us!
About our guest speaker
Dr. Steven Cooke is a professor and Canada Research Chair in Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology at Carleton University. Steve’s research covers many disciplines in the areas of fish ecology, physiology, and behaviour and also probes human dimensions, knowledge mobilization, and policy. In 2015, he founded the Canadian Centre for Evidence-Based Conservation, which synthesizes information for policy makers. His research findings (700+ peer-reviewed publications) have ranged from fish passage solutions and habitat restoration activities, to addressing issues related to bycatch and innovations in recreational fisheries management. Steve has worked diligently to raise the profile of inland fish and fisheries to resource development globally. His hard work, creative approaches and ability to engage in partnership research has been recognized with several awards, including the Roderick Haig-Brown Award, the Latornell Leadership Award, and the NSERC E.W.R. Steacie Award. Steve is a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and Secretary of the College of the Royal Society of Canada.
For more information, contact:
Amy MacPherson, Planner
City of Ottawa
Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development
613-580-2424, ext. 14873
Pollinators: Secret Superheroes – April 26, 2019
Date and time
Dr. Jessica Forrest, University of Ottawa
Dr. Jeff Skevington, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
There are so many pollinators living among us! Many people know that honeybees and butterflies are pollinators, but they may not realize that there are hundreds of different types of native bees too. Other local pollinators include flies, moths, wasps, ants, beetles and even some birds. They will be hard at work again this spring and summer, and that’s good news for all the plants and animals (including humans) that rely on their services. The City invites residents to learn more about native pollinators, and why they are so important to us. This event includes displays by local environmental organizations and presentations by local researchers Dr. Jessica Forrest and Dr. Jeff Skevington. We hope you can join us!
About our guest speakers
Jessica Forrest is an Associate Professor of Biology at the University of Ottawa. She is interested in all aspects of the ecology and evolutionary biology of bees. Her lab conducts research on the factors limiting wild bee populations, the effects of climate change on plant-pollinator interactions, the role of wild bees in crop production, and the natural history of pollination (website). Dr. Forrest obtained her Ph.D. at the University of Toronto in 2011 and she has done field work in California, the Colorado Rocky Mountains, and the somewhat less mountainous but nevertheless interesting area around Ottawa.
Jeff Skevington is a lifelong naturalist and has been looking at insects and birds since he was about 7 years old. He is a Research Scientist and the Head of Diptera (flies) at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Canadian National Collection of Insects in Ottawa. His focus there is on the taxonomy and phylogenetics of flower flies (Syrphidae) and big-headed flies (Pipunculidae). He has published over 100 scientific papers on these animals and trained a number of students through Carleton University, Trent University and University of Guelph where he serves as an Adjunct Professor. One of Jeff’s current projects, a ‘Field Guide to the Flower Flies (Hover Flies) of Northeastern North America’, is expected to be published by Princeton University Press about the time of this event, making this event a semi-official book launch.
If you have any questions about pollinating insects (or photos) feel free to bring them to share with Jeff and Jessica before or after the presentation. Jeff also has a passion for gardening with native plants to encourage native wildlife (including pollinators) so feel free to also come armed with questions about growing native plants.
For more information, contact:
Amy MacPherson, Planner
City of Ottawa
Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development
Email : email@example.com
613-580-2424, ext. 14873
6 p.m. Nature Expo
7 p.m. Opening remarks and Presentation
Admission is free and will be on a first come, first served basis.
Wildlife in Winter – October 24, 2018
Date and time
Speaker: Michael Runtz, Carleton University
Ben Franklin Place, 101 Centrepointe Drive
6 p.m. Wildlife Expo
7 p.m. Opening remarks and Presentation
Admission is free and will be on a first come, first served basis.
The days are getting shorter, and winter is coming. Just like us, wildlife are busily preparing for Ottawa’s challenging winter weather. Some animals can escape winter by migrating south, but others use different strategies to survive. The City invites residents to learn more about how our wild neighbours make it through the winter. This event includes displays by local environmental organizations and a presentation by Michael Runtz, renowned naturalist and professor at Carleton University. We hope you can join us!
About our guest speaker
Michael Runtz has been an avid birdwatcher since the age of five, and has worked as an interpretive naturalist in Algonquin Provincial and Point Pelee National parks. Michael was a founding director of the Ontario Field Ornithologists and the Macnamara Field Naturalists’ Club in Arnprior, of which he is still president. He is also an accomplished author, educator, television host, and photographer, recognized through numerous education, conservation, and photography awards. His latest book, Algonquin Wild, which showcases the beauty and wonders of Algonquin Park through all four seasons, is coming out this fall. Michael currently teaches Natural History and Ornithology courses at Ottawa’s Carleton University where his highly visual and engaging courses continue to attract record enrolments.
For more information, contact:
Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development
email : firstname.lastname@example.org
tel. : 613-580-2424, ext. 14873
Celebrating Canada’s Iconic Trees and Flowers - September 26, 2017
Featuring “The Flowers of Canada” art exhibit by Mary Margaret Land
Speaker: Ken Farr, Canadian Forest Service
Tuesday September 26, 2017
Ottawa City Hall, 110 Laurier Avenue West
7 p.m. Art Exhibit and Nature Expo
8 p.m. Opening remarks and Presentation
Admission is free and will be on a first come, first served basis.
In honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary, National Forest Week, and National Tree Day (September 27), the City invites residents to learn more about Canada’s iconic trees and flowers. This event includes displays by local organizations, an exhibit by Canadian artist Mary Margaret Land, and a presentation by Ken Farr. Canada’s trees, flowers and other plants are among our greatest natural resources, and have helped to shape this land’s history and cultures. Many of our native species are recognised as official provincial and territorial symbols. Come learn more about these iconic species!
About the artist
Mary Margaret Land is an artist who lives in Prince Edward Island. She earned a degree in Biology from the University of Guelph, and worked as a botanical illustrator at the University for several years. Her love of flowers is reflected in many of her paintings, and led her to create “The Flowers of Canada: A Celebration of Canadian Unity,” in honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary. This series of watercolour paintings featuring the official flowers of Canada’s provinces and territories, combined with interpretive prose, took over 10 years to complete. It will be exhibited across Canada in the upcoming months.
About our guest speaker
Ken Farr is a science manager and senior policy advisor with the Canadian Forest Service, Natural Resources Canada. His current responsibilities include international trade in forest products, urban forest science, invasive forest pests, and plant quarantine issues. He is the Canadian Forest Service Scientific Authority representative for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Ken taught horticulture, urban forestry and arboriculture in the Horticulture Department of Algonquin College, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, and dendrology at the University of Toronto School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture. He was project dendrologist for the reference text Trees in Canada by John Laird Farrar, and is author of the Canadian Forest Service publication, The Forests of Canada.
For more information, contact:
Amy MacPherson, Planner
City of Ottawa
Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development
Tel.: 613-580-2424, ext. 14873
A Celebration of Canada's Wildlife - April 6, 2017
Speaker: Michael Runtz, Carleton University
Thursday April 6, 2017
Ben Franklin Place
101 Centrepointe Drive
6 p.m. Wildlife Expo
7 p.m. Opening remarks and Presentation
Admission is free.
In honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary, and leading up to National Wildlife Week (April 9 to15), the City invites residents to learn more about Canada’s iconic wildlife. This event includes displays by local organizations and a presentation by renowned naturalist Michael Runtz. Canada’s rich diversity of wildlife is part of our national heritage, and continues to shape our country’s global identity. Beavers, loons and moose are all readily recognized as Canadian symbols, and can all be found living in Ottawa. Come celebrate our wild neighbours!
About our guest speaker:
Michael Runtz has been an avid birdwatcher since the age of five, and has worked as an interpretive naturalist in Algonquin Provincial and Point Pelee National parks. Michael was a founding director of the Ontario Field Ornithologists and the Macnamara Field Naturalists’ Club in Arnprior, of which he is still president. He is also an accomplished author, educator, television host, and photographer, recognized through numerous education, conservation, and photography awards. His most recent book, Dam Builders: the Natural History of Beavers and their Ponds, was nominated for the John Burroughs Medal, and was a runner-up for the prestigious Lane Anderson Award. Michael currently teaches Natural History and Ornithology courses at Ottawa’s Carleton University where his highly visual courses continue to attract record enrolments.
Registration is now closed.
For more information, contact:
Amy MacPherson, Planner
Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development
tel: 613-580-2424 ext. 14873
Healthy Trees - Healthy City: A Celebration of National Tree Day - September 21, 2016
Speaker, Professor Marc Berman, University of Chicago
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Horticultural Building, Lansdowne Park
6 p.m. Healthy Communities Expo
7 p.m. Opening remarks and Presentation
Admission is free.
Ottawa's trees clean our air, improve the health of our residents, beautify our communities, and improve our quality of life. You are invited to learn more by attending this event which includes displays by organizations focused on environment and healthy living and a presentation by Professor Marc Berman. His study, conducted by a team of researchers from the United States, Canada, and Australia, researched the implications of an increase of urban trees in Toronto and residents feeling healthier.
The event will feature the opening of Photosynthesis 2, a Tree Fest Ottawa photography exhibit. Be one of the first to tour the exhibit.
The event is brought to you in partnership with Tree Fest Ottawa and Ottawa Public Health.
About our guest speaker:
Marc Berman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago. His research interest includes the ability of natural environments to improve attention and memory. Understanding the relationship between individual psychological and neural processing and environmental factors are at the heart of his research.
For more information, contact:
Lise Guevremont, Planner
City of Ottawa
Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development
613-580-2424 ext. 27784
Engaging Citizens in Science - April 12, 2016
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Ben Franklin Place
101 Centrepointe Drive
6 to 7 p.m. Citizen science displays
7 to 8 p.m Presentations
Citizen science has become an increasingly popular and important method of scientific investigation. Propelled by new technologies, especially social media, it allows researchers to collect and analyze scientific data at scales and in volumes that were never before feasible or affordable. From the analysis of ocean sounds to the tracking of butterfly migration, from global change to backyard bio-blitzes, citizen science is drawing ordinary people into some of the most important and transformative research of the 21 Century.
The event will feature two impressive speakers.
Dr. Jeremy Kerr from the University of Ottawa is a co-founder of Bumblebeewatch.org and a pioneer in citizen science. He will discuss his experiences and how the public can become involved in ongoing research programs. Dr. Kerr is an engaging speaker, whose work and research has been featured in the journals Science and Nature, CBC’s Quirks and Quarks, The National, and the Rick Mercer Report.
Andy Kenney is a Senior Lecturer Emeritus from the University of Toronto. He will present a new community-based approach to urban forest stewardship: the Neighbourwoods Program. The basis of the program is a comprehensive inventory approach that can be carried out by volunteers to inform the development of a neighbourhood stewardship strategy.
The event will include displays by organizations active in citizen science in Ottawa. Participants will learn how they can get involved in a wide range of exciting projects.
Wildlife and a Liveable City - March 2, 2015
World Wildlife Day
Monday, March 2, 2015
6 p.m. Environment Trade Show
7:30 p.m. Panel discussion
Jean Pigott Place, Ottawa City Hall
110 Laurier Avenue West
Did you know?
- Canada is proud to join 170 other countries to celebrate World Wildlife Day to raise awareness of the world's fauna and flora.
- Ottawa has over 2,660 hectares of natural areas within its boundaries.
- Ottawa supports over 500 species of wildlife.
The City of Ottawa invites you to this interactive event on urban areas and wildlife conservation including:
- How do animals live in the city?
- How do we grow as a city with green spaces for wildlife to live?
- There are many possibilities if we work together
This esteemed line-up of thought-leaders and wildlife conservation champions will share experiences on how cities and communities can contribute to wildlife conservation.
Councillor, Capital Ward
Chair of Environment Committee
Chair of the Ottawa Stewardship Council
Brenda Van Sleeuwen
Conservation Biologist, Nature Conservancy of Canada
Send your questions and thoughts to email@example.com and we will do our best to ensure they are addressed at this event. Register here!
Lise Guèvremont, MCIP RPP
Planner, Land Use and Natural Systems Policy
Planning and Growth Management
613-580-2424, ext. 27784
Winter is for the Birds - December 9, 2014
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Environmental Expo and Birds of Ottawa Slide Show from 6 to 9 p.m.
Formal Presentation by Bruce di Labio at 7 p.m.
Ben Franklin Place
101 Centrepointe Drive
This event focused on Ottawa's birds, and how they survive (and even thrive!) in the winter. This was the final event to be held in 2014.
Renowned local birder, Bruce di Labio, spoke about how Ottawa's birds spend their winters in and around Ottawa. Bruce has led bird watching groups locally and internationally for many years. He also writes about birds in various publications, including the weekly World of Birds column in the Ottawa Citizen.
A nature slide show as well as an environmental exposition was offered for residents to learn more about Ottawa's wildlife, natural environment and local environmental initiatives. The evening was a great success with over 200 people in attendance!
Results of Photo Contest
The City held a photography contest in conjunction with the Wildlife Speaker Series event, Winter is for the Birds.
Residents were invited to submit photographs of wild birds taken in Ottawa or elsewhere in the National Capital Region. All 227 photographs received were displayed in a public slideshow before and after the Wildlife Speaker Series presentation on December 9. The five best photos, as selected by a panel of judges, were professionally printed, mounted and presented to the winners as well as displayed for a limited time at City Hall. They are also being displayed here on ottawa.ca, with the permission of the photographers, for everyone to enjoy!
"Little Green Heron Stalking Prey"
Taken by Al Robinson at Mud Lake, Ottawa
Taken by Daniel Parent at Green's Creek, Ottawa
"Grebe with Chicks"
Taken by Jim Cumming at Aquaview Pond, Orleans
"Crows in Snowstorm"
Taken by Sandy Sharkey at Leitrim Road, Ottawa
"Great Blue Heron"
Taken by David White at Petrie Island, Ottawa
For more information:
Planning and Growth Management
613-580-2424, ext. 14873
White-tailed Deer – September 18, 2014
Thursday, September 18, 2014
7 to 9 p.m.
Ben Franklin Place
101 Centrepointe Drive
The City of Ottawa will be holding its third Wildlife Speakers Series event on Thursday, September 18 at 7 p.m. at Ben Franklin Place, 101 Centrepointe Drive. This session will address white-tailed deer.
People and deer have a long history together. White-tailed deer are valued as a game species, and for their grace and beauty, but they can also become a pest to farmers and gardeners. Motor vehicle collisions involving deer are a major safety concern, especially during the fall.
The City has invited experts from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to present information on white-tailed deer ecology and biology to improve our understanding of these wild neighbours.
Michael Gatt is the Ministry's Senior Wildlife Biologist for our region. He has worked with a variety of public stakeholders to develop key strategies for the prevention and management of conflicts with deer and other wildlife.
Dr. Brent Patterson is a research scientist with the Ministry, and an adjunct professor with Trent University. He has spent many years exploring the ecology of deer and their canine predators (wolves and coyotes).
In addition to the presentation, there will be a nature slideshow and an environmental exposition from 6 to 9 p.m. at Ben Franklin Place for residents to learn more about Ottawa's wildlife, natural environment and local environmental initiatives. The City will also provide information on traffic safety (Speeding Costs You Dearly) and public health (Lyme disease).
The City will hold one more event in the Wildlife Speakers Series this year. The series is intended to increase residents' knowledge and appreciation of wildlife and promote coexistence through understanding and respect. All of these events are free of charge.
For more information:
Planning and Growth Management
613-580-2424, ext. 14873
Backyard Diversity - April 11, 2014
Friday, April 11, 2014
7 to 9 p.m.
Council Chambers, City Hall
110 Laurier Avenue West
The City of Ottawa will be marking National Wildlife Week with the second session of its Wildlife Speakers Series on Friday, April 11 at 7 p.m. in Andrew S. Haydon Hall (Council Chambers) at City Hall, 110 Laurier Avenue West. The topic of this session is Backyard Biodiversity: Welcoming nature into your yard, not your home.
The featured guest speakers are Sarah Kirkpatrick-Wahl from Nature Canada, and Bill Dowd, CEO of Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control, Canada's largest wildlife control company.
Ms. Kirkpatrick-Wahl is a conservation biologist, who is currently working on the NatureHood program, which aims to connect people with nature in urban environments – right in their backyards.
Mr. Dowd has over 25 years of experience in helping people avoid or resolve conflicts with wildlife around residential settings. He is respected as an expert in the field.
In addition to the presentations, there will be a nature slideshow and an environmental exposition from 6 to 9 p.m. in Jean Pigott Place for residents to learn more about Ottawa's wildlife and natural environment and local environmental initiatives. Participants will include the Canadian Wildlife Federation, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club and the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. Ontario Electronic Stewardship will also have a booth and will be accepting old electronic equipment for recycling.
The City will hold two more events in the Wildlife Speakers Series this year. The series is intended to increase residents' knowledge and appreciation of wildlife and promote coexistence through understanding and respect. All of these events are free of charge.
Coyotes – February 28, 2014
Coyotes - Getting to know our wiley neighbours
Friday, February 28
7 to 9 p.m.
Ben Franklin Place (101 Centrepointe Drive)
Dr. Stan Gehrt, world renowned wildlife ecologist from Ohio State University, will provide insight on how people in urban and rural developments can coexist with coyotes, at the first event of the City's Wildlife Speakers' Series at 7 p.m. on Friday, February 28, at Ben Franklin Place (101 Centrepointe Drive).
Dr. Gehrt is the lead investigator in the Cook County Coyote Project, which has been studying the coyote population in the greater Chicago metropolitan area since 2000. This project has led to many interesting discoveries about how coyotes behave in different settings, and how they interact with humans and other animals.
Dr. Gehrt will share his extensive knowledge and experience to provide a better understanding of coyotes – including how and why they live in settled areas. He will also show how residents can avoid problems with coyotes, such as taking simple preventative measures around their properties.
In addition to the presentation, information booths will also be on-hand for residents to acquire more information on Ottawa's wildlife and natural environment. These booths will be on display from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.
The City will hold three more events in the Wildlife Speakers' Series this year. The series is intended to increase residents' knowledge and appreciation of wildlife and promote coexistence through understanding and respect.
The next event is planned for April on the topic of Backyard Biodiversity.
For more information:
Planning and Growth Management
613-580-2424, ext. 14873