(PHOTO: Deer in the Greenbelt between Kanata and Bells Corners. Photo by Glen Gower.)
Canada has the second largest land mass of any country but sadly we are losing our natural habitat at the highest rate. As our cities are becoming more and more congested, people are opting to live in the suburbs, causing urban sprawl to encroach further and further into wildlife habitat.
There seems to be an endless amount of new development sprouting up in every direction, especially in Stittsville. While most people are sad to see forests cleared and wetlands drained, few people put conscious thought to the plight of the wildlife that once lived there.
Unlike many forward-thinking cities which already have in place a progressive and sustainable developmental approached to wildlife-sensitive planning, the City of Ottawa is still in the dark ages in respect to how it handles its wildlife and development. Presently thousands of animals needlessly die at the hands of bulldozers, blasting and construction machinery, either being buried alive or crushed to death and even suffering from internally bleeding through the effects of blasting (for animals that have their nest underground).
This type of habitat destruction happens throughout the year, with no regard to the animals that live there, or the birthing season, which leaves mothers and babies vulnerable and defenceless, creating orphans which are left to die through injury or starvation. To date wildlife in areas slated for development are not given any chance to relocate or even escape.
After 15 years of empty promises, the City of Ottawa has finally developed a Wildlife Construction Protocol with input from a variety of wildlife organisations which addresses the very important issue of how wildlife are treated before, during and after land is developed. Whilst this is a big step forward for wildlife, the protocol is still only in draft form and needs to be approved by the committee and the City Councillors. This approval will only go ahead if there is enough public support. Whilst we cannot stop developers from destroying wildlife habitat, with this new wildlife construction protocol we can at least force them to follow a protocol which would allow a more humane way of treating our precious wildlife.
Today we have the ability and means to give wildlife the protection they deserve. We can be a leader in sustainable development and show our children and future generations what respect and compassion for all truly means.
We must not forget that the way we treat our most vulnerable creatures on this earth is a measurement of who we are as human beings. I really believe that this issue should be a major concern to all Canadians.
(The City of Ottawa is accepting comments on the updated Wildlife Construction Protocol until end of day on Sunday, February 8. More info here.)
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