The pros and cons of promoting "urban wild"...
We live near
Green's Creek and had seen an owl very close to the foot path (but couldn't i.d. it as it flew off
quickly - as surprised to see us as we were to see it) this fall, so I
was excited to see this picture on The Weather Network's page: Great Grey Owl. It was a nice confirmation that we are blessed to live so close to an area that is great habitat for wildlife.
We missed this write up in the Ottawa Citizen: Return of the Great Grey Owls which should have been a great opportunity for promoting interest in wildlife to city dwellers but then I saw some comments on the Ottawa Field Naturalists' page and discovered this blog post: The debate on baiting owls by 100 Birds in a Year. I'm not currently in town, so had no idea that this was happening.
This issue distressed me. I know it is nature's way - that owls are predatory but
I feel that baiting owls is not natural for either the mouse or the owl
and I just feel bad for both. I didn't want to write about it but when I stumbled upon this posted by Tony Beck, I felt it sums up the situation quite well and provided some guidelines to consider: Interaction with Owls at Tommy Thompson Park.
"An owl should not be focused on you: it should
either be sleeping with its eyes closed on focusing intently on prey. If
you see an owl exhibiting these sings, simply back off and give it
space.Considering the stress that one
individual can place on an owl, it is easy to see how problematic it can
be when the location of an owl is posted or shared by word of mouth. It
isn’t long before the owl is being bombarded by multitudes of people."
At the above link there is a pdf document that outlines their new Viewing and Reporting Policy. These types of policies should be enacted in all cities - I hope that Ottawa follows suit.
I also feel that education is key so that people
understand their impact on the wild and know how to interact and read
the signs that are indicated by the wildlife species themselves. Perhaps at some point - depending on the situation certain
locations will have to be protected and in others "limited weekend
guided tours" could be allowed. For now I'm hoping that policies such as the ones above will prove helpful. If I had known about the Green's Creek situation, I would have truly appreciated having a number I could call and some local authorities that could have dealt with the situation properly.
No Image Included as a Solidarity Action for the Owls