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Lethal trapping the status quo in newly proposed City of Ottawa wildlife management strategy

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For the first time in more than a decade, the City of Ottawa is updating its wildlife management strategy, but it is not changing its lethal trapping policies, something many residents were hoping to see stopped.

"I was very disappointed," said Ottawa resident Marianne Ariganello. "We had a huge opportunity to really understand the situation, how they can protect our wetlands and how they can protect the beavers that are so important to wetlands."

Ariganello lives near Mooney's Bay and says she remembers the outcry in 2021 when a well-known beaver was trapped after its dam in Ottawa's south end caused flooding.

The city kills around 150 beavers every year as part of its wildlife management strategy.

"A lot of people were heartbroken and really disappointed in what could have been a great opportunity to teach and educate and protect, but that wasn't the path that was chosen," Ariganello said.

It's something residents like Ariganello want to see changed, but when it comes to the city's newly proposed wildlife strategy it's business as usual when it comes to lethal trappings.

"We obviously want to move towards complete co-existence of wildlife and humans and so I think there's other questions that need to be asked with respect to those practices," said Alta Vista Ward Coun. Marty Carr.

For years, wildlife advocates have been pushing for more humane options such as flow devices, which allow the beavers to stay while preventing flooding.

"London, Ontario has done an amazing job putting flow devices into its storm water ponds," said Donna DuBreuil, Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre president. "They're building the flow device design right into it, so it's cost effective and it's very environmentally friendly."

When you look at cost, the City of London tells CTV News that in the past three years it has spent less than $15,000 per year on its beaver management program.

In Ottawa, a trapper alone costs the city more than $150,000 each year.

"It's just a very long established practice that from a taxpayer's point-of-view — we're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars — it needs to change," DuBreuil said.

Councillors are set to discuss the new strategy at a committee meeting on Monday, where people like Ariganello are hoping to ask questions before city council votes at the end of the month.

"I think transparency and education with the public is very important and this strategy draft isn't really listening to what our residents are asking for," said Ariganello.

Nearly a dozen residents and wildlife experts are expected to come to Monday's meeting.

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