Ottawa squirrel deportation raises Quebec hackles

Photo: likeaduck, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Photo: likeaduck, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

It happens time and time again. A voracious groundhog sets up near favorite flowers, or invades the veggie garden. Maybe a raccoon is raiding the compost. Compassion (or local law) forbids hot lead as a quick solution. Out comes the live trap and a one-way ride to an imagined “new home” in the countryside.

The trouble with that is no one else wants your problem pest either. I’ve heard complaints from rural residents about vehicles cruising around, doing the illicit dump. Kittens, rabbits, raccoons – they’ve seen it all and they are not amused. It’s very hard on the animal and (often) illegal as well.

That doesn’t stop the practice though.

This past Tuesday the Ottawa Citizen’s Tom Spears uncovered a mini cross-province skirmish in which residents of Westboro (in Ottawa) have allegedly been trapping squirrels and driving them across the river hoping to impose permanent exile in Quebec. As Spears reports:

Daniel Sylvester of Royal Avenue noticed a squirrel in his neighbour’s humane trap recently and offered to let the squirrel go. He assumed the neighbour was trying to trap raccoons.

“He said, ‘No, I’m trying to catch them all and bring them to Quebec because they can’t cross the bridge.’

“It seemed pretty humorous and it seemed very Westboro,” he said.

And what does that last crack mean? Hmm. What can I say about Westboro without getting into trouble?

Well, it’s a very nice area. (Though I gather some think it would be even nicer minus the squirrels.)

Photo: DJHeini, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Photo: DJHeini, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Westboro is centrally located near the Ottawa River. It boasts a popular beach park and nice bike paths. The area has the income and inclination to support hip eateries and shops. Real estate shorthand calls it “trendy and vibrant“. Here’s Wikipedia’s profile on the neighborhood and its history. You might think everyone there is ecologically aware and committed to a green lifestyle, but some are and some aren’t.

Back when we first moved to Ontario we rented an old converted church in Kanata for a year while we figured out where to try buy a house. At first glance I thought Westboro looked like one of the nicer areas in Ottawa. The trouble was a lot of people like Westboro. Prices were along the lines of “if you have to ask, you probably can’t afford it.” We bought elsewhere.

In short, Westboro residents can’t expect to get away with exporting squirrels without a backlash of jokes, or resentment.

Only two days after breaking the small scandal the Citizen had a supplemental story noting the initial article (“Westboro’s plan for squirrels: Deport them to Quebec”) was cropping up around the world.

Naturally, there are now Westboro squirrels tweets, like this one:

Also. For every ONE of us forced to undergo extraordinary rendition, we will murder FOUR of your begonias. #GotThatWestboro?

Another demonstrates how well imaginary Canadian squirrels track events in the U.S.:

We are following everyone who follows us. Don’t be scared. It’s not really a world domination thing so much as an idea we got from the NSA.

As mentioned in previous posts, in Ontario it is generally illegal to relocate wildlife. Here’s more relating to that from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources:

Wildlife relocation is regulated in Ontario under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. If an animal is captured it must be released unharmed in close proximity to the capture site (within 1 kilometer) or, if sick or injured, delivered to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator within 24 hours unless otherwise directed by the Ministry.

The Ministry’s position is humans must try co-exist with wildlife. Suggestions about how to best do that can be found here.

So, what’s really going on when humans and wild creatures collide? Are we all busily trading animals by way of clandestine car rides?

Where do you fall on the spectrum of co-existence verses eradication – or extraordinary rendition – of these furry neighbors?


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6 Comments on “Ottawa squirrel deportation raises Quebec hackles”

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  1. Michelle says:

    Relocating wild animals who are raised and used to foraging in an urban environment into a rural area means a death sentence by starvation:

    So while a person may think they are being humane, they are actually not. Animal-proofing your home properly is the most humane thing to do.

  2. Marlo Stanfield says:

    That’s cruel. Do the squirrels even speak French?

  3. Jenni says:

    From bitter experience, I agree that animal-proofing your property is the best solution…if you can afford it :)

  4. Michael Greer says:

    Removing squirrels, even by the hot-lead method, is like trying to empty a pool with a cup. Let me assure you, there are not enough hours in your life to get rid of the squirrels, and driving them across the river adds to your carbon footprint in ways that you’ll never regain.

  5. Walker says:

    Besides, squirrels swim. I’ve seen them in the middle of fairly big bodies of water, doggie paddling away. (Or is that squirrely paddling?)

  6. jeff paul says:

    Squirrels are rodents, really just rats with fuzzy tails. Does anyone complain when rats are killed with rat poison? Should the people with the squirrel problem kill them or relocate them?
    At least once of year a new litter of squirrel babies are introduced into squirrel infested areas… These new squirrels must fight (and die) for their territory… Why should anyone care if a few (usually mature) squirrels are relocated to a new area? Every squirrel that is moved opens a home up for a new squirrel. One lives, one dies, nature decides – not man… as it should be.

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