(ABOVE: Coyote spotted in the Fairwinds neighbourhood, near Khamsim Street, mid-February.)
A City of Ottawa biologist says that coyotes in Stittsville pose a low safety risk to residents.
Dr. Nick Stow met with residents on Hesse Crescent in Wyldewood and councillor Shad Qadri on Friday morning to address concerns from residents about frequent coyote sightings in their neighbourhood and around Stittsville. Continue reading →
(File photo: Blanding’s Turtle along Hazeldean Road. Photo by Ken McRae.)
Minto is proposing several measures to protect Blanding’s Turtles at the new Potter’s Key development on Hazeldean Road. They’ve applied to Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) for permission to proceed with the development, which could impact the animals, classified as a Species at Risk in Ontario (SARO). Continue reading →
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) say they haven’t had a confirmed cougar sighting in Ontario since 1884, but many of our readers are convinced that there are cougars living in the province.
(ABOVE: Neighbours on Savage Drive think this paw print may be from a cougar. Photo via Pat Goyette.)
It’s not impossible, but it’s unlikely there are any cougars wandering around Stittsville, despite recent reports of exactly that. In fact, there hasn’t been a confirmed sighting of a wild cougar in this province for 132 years.
We’ve been reading about a few possible cougar sightings in the area on social media. Late in May, neighbours on Savage Drive (south of Hazeldean) reported spotting what they thought was a cougar coming out of Amberway Park. They posted these footprints.
We forwarded the photographed footprints to Kamal Khidas, Curator of Vertebrate Zoology at the Canadian Museum of Nature. Khidas said the photographs were too poor quality to have any certainty, but there was no clear indication the prints came from a cougar. He suggested it may have come from a wolf instead.
A wolf is just one of dozens of animals people could confuse for a cougar, says Jane Devlin, management biologist with the Kemptville office of the Ministry of Natural Resources.
“I think the common animals that are confused and mistakenly identified as a cougar could be a white-tailed deer, dog, domestic cat, a bobcat, even a fisher… it could be any number of those.”
She says the ministry receives reports of cougars all the time, but there’s never solid evidence to confirm one – not since 1884, the last confirmed sighting of a wild cougar.
Devlin didn’t rule out the possibility of an escaped cougar from captivity, for example from a zoo or an exotic pet owner. If there were any around Ottawa, trail cams would likely have taped them.
Whether it’s a cougar or not, Devlin said there are important safety tips to keep in mind in case you are confronted by a wild animal. Face it directly, back away slowly, make lots of noise and try to appear larger than you actually are.
And please, no cougar jokes. We’ve heard them all.
Thanks to Desiree McCarthy for sending along this photo of an owl in the north part of Fairwinds, taken at the end of November. Pretty sure this is a barred owl, also known as a hoot owl for its distinctive call.
ABOVE: The Blanding’s Turtle is one of the species at risk in the Kanata Lakes North land.
After intensive negotiations with the provincial Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Kanata Lakes North Development Inc. (KNL) has applied for a permit to destroy up to 124 hectares of Blanding’s Turtle habitat, remove up to 120 Butternut trees and “kill, harm and harass” Least Bittern — all species designated as either endangered or threatened. Continue reading →
(Above: Karla Torres’ family witnessed nature up close in June when they saw a snapping turtle laying her eggs in the sand at Stitt Street Park.)
One of the greatest things about living in Stittsville is how close we are to nature. That leads to some unexpected encounters and sometimes even conflict. Here are nine of our favourite stories about nature from the past year. (More “Best of 2015” stories here…)Continue reading →
Several media outlets have stories today about Stittsville resident Mary Herbert, and how she volunteered to chauffer a sick beaver 400km from the Rideau Valley Wildlife Centre to a rehabilitation clinic in Rosseau, Ontario. Continue reading →
Preserve. Connect. Enjoy. These are the goals of the Friends of Huntley Highlands (FHH) for preserving the Carp Hills for the benefit of its natural history and those who love it.
The Carp Hills comprise nearly 4,000 hectares of environmentally significant forests, wetlands, and rock barren uplands in the rural northwest of the City of Ottawa. This largely undeveloped area supports a similar Canadian Shield ecosystem as those of Algonquin Park and Gatineau Park. Continue reading →
Foxes, deer, turtles, turkeys, coyotes, beavers and even bears are fairly common sights in Stittsville, but it’s not often you see an otter.
Photographer Jacinta Cillis-Asquith lives in Bryanston Gate, just east of Jackson Trails. On Saturday morning around 8:40am, she was out for a walk near the stormwater management pond in Jackson Trails, and spotted this guy having breakfast. It’s a river otter. Continue reading →
Every week we get lots of comments from our readers on our web site, via email, and social media. Here’s a sample of what we heard this week. Add your thoughts to the comments at the bottom of this article or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This photo shows a development site off Terry Fox Drive in Kanata that was recently clear cut during the height of the birthing season for mammals. Last month, the city’s planning committee approved a new Wildlife Construction Protocol with guidelines on “best practices” that developers should take to protect wildlife in construction areas. Donna DuBreuil is the president of the Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre, and doesn’t think the protocol is strong enough.
The jury will remain out on Ottawa’s Wildlife Construction Protocol, at least until the public sees whether its recommendations are put into force.
It’s disappointing that the main implementation tool in the draft protocol has been eliminated in the revised version. Originally, developers were required to submit a Wildlife Mitigation Plan and Construction Site Management Plan. That’s been replaced only by ‘best practices’ guidelines, which will substantially eliminate the most effective means to reduce direct harm to wildlife during construction. Continue reading →
The Ottawa Valley of CPAWS (Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society) has issued an alert about baby snapping turtles:
“Snapping Turtle’ hatching season just started. If you will find tiny creatures on the roads or other places, which are far from water, help them survive rescuing to water. We found today morning 15 just hatched snapping turtles. Most part of them was on the road; few were found in the grass. We rescued turtles from the road, but let move independently those found in grass.”
There were quite a few reports of snapping turtles setting up nests in the sand at Stittsville parks back in June, so keep your eyes open for these little creatures.
Thanks to Lara Winnemore for sending along this photo she took along the Trans Canada Trail on Wednesday afternoon., between Beverly and Abbott. This doe was accompanied by its mother, but mom ran away before Winnemore could snap the photo.
Thanks to Stittsville Central for the in-depth article on what happens when municipalities place more value on bad development than environmental sustainability. And, for showing that local residents can make a difference in standing up for the community’s best interests. Continue reading →
Vandals wrecked the turtle enclosure at Stitt Street Park today, but neighbours believe the eggs were left unharmed.
Earlier this month, Karla Torres and her family saw a snapping turtle laying her eggs in the sand. They built a protective enclosure around the next and posted a sign in an effort to help the eggs survive until months later when they’ll hatch. Continue reading →
Karla Torres and her family witnessed nature up close last week when they saw a snapping turtle laying her eggs in the sand at Stitt Street Park.
“Our kids were there and saw everything,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “It was an awesome experience! The mission now is to protect the eggs until they hatch, that will take around 9 to 18 weeks. We made a protection around the nest and a sign. Let’s spread the word and help those baby turtles survive!”
She’s contacted the Rideau Valley Wildlife Sanctuary to get advice on what can be done to help protect the eggs from predators, like birds, raccoons and skunks.
Another resident reported seeing a snapping turtle laying eggs along Sweetnam Drive the day before.
UPDATE: We’ve received reports today of snapping turtles crossing the road or laying eggs near Overland Drive in Jackson Trails; on Rosehill Drive near Huntmar in Fairwinds; and on Trailway Circle in Amberwood.
Snapping turtles are the largest freshwater turtle in Canada, and are common in Eastern Ontario. They’re often seen in areas near Poole Creek in Stittsville. They usually dig nests in late May or June, and lay anywhere from 40 to 50 eggs.
Snapping turtles bury their eggs, usually in sand, but then leave them unprotected. Protective netting is often used to help protect the nests, such as the one in Stitt Street Park.
According to OntarioNature.org, the snapping turtle is listed as Special Concern both the Ontario Endangered Species Act and the federal Species at Risk Act. It’s also a Specially Protected Reptile under the Ontario Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act.