May 13, 2003

For immediate release


Humane Society Begs Public to Stop Picking up Wildlife


In the wake of the closure of the Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre, the Ottawa Humane Society has been inundated with calls regarding wildlife and now that birthing season has arrived, people are picking up young wild animals and bringing them to the Champagne Avenue Shelter.


According to OHS Executive Director, Bruce Roney “What the public does not seem to realize is that, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources has made wildlife rehabilitation illegal in this area.  All we can legally do now is euthanize them.  Better to leave the animal alone. In most instances, when the young appear to be abandoned, in fact a parent is nearby and the young will be fine. It is generally best to leave wild animals alone”


When asked who is responsible for this situation, Roney places the blame clearly on the Province, “The Ministry just came to town, announced the change in policy and left.  No support at all for the residents of Ottawa dealing with wildlife and certainly no help for the animals.”


The OHS joined its colleagues at the Wildlife Centre in questioning the MNR’s extension of the so called ‘high risk zone’ anticipating that if there were a raccoon rabies concern, eliminating responsible rehabilitation would make matters worse, not better.  Now the Centre is closed and the Society is left to deal with the fallout.


Ministry regulations currently provide only two options: leave orphaned wildlife where they are or remove them solely for the purpose of immediate euthanasia.  It is the policy of the Ottawa Humane Society not to euthanize healthy wildlife unnecessarily.  This would be inconsistent with our mission mandate and philosophies.


Only where the mother is known to be dead will the OHS euthanize the young. The public is asked to please return orphaned wildlife to the exact spot they were found or to take them to their vet for euthanasia.  This applies to callers or people arriving at the shelter in person with juvenile wildlife.


“We are simply not willing to euthanize healthy young wildlife just because someone decided to pick it up,” states Roney.


The OHS has come to an interim agreement with the City regarding sick and injured wildlife:


Where there is reason to believe that a vector species (bats, raccoons, skunks, foxes) animal is sick, the City of Ottawa has agreed to assume responsibility in view of its public safety mandate, to investigate and take appropriate action.  For the time being, the OHS will continue to euthanize these animals on behalf of the City and to send them for testing where indicated.


All injured wildlife, where there is no suspicion of illness, continue to fall under the mandate of the OHS for the time being.  The exception to this is bats, which are to be assumed in most cases to be positive for rabies.


The public can obtain more information about wildlife and this situation at



Contact:  Bruce Roney, Executive Director Ottawa Humane Society 725-3166 ext. 232