It has been suggested that Ottawa’s community associations might want to pass along the information below to their residents, given that wildlife affects everyone. In fact, even if you don’t care for wildlife, removing their homes during the birthing season is not in anyone’s interest, as it increases the likelihood of squirrels being forced to move into people’s soffits and attics to find shelter for themselves and their young:
We have received a number of calls from people concerned about the City of Ottawa’s tree removal and/or pruning activities and its impact on squirrels this winter.
One family was distressed to find a squirrel desperately seeking shelter on their balcony during the extreme cold spell. This occurred after the squirrel’s drey or leaf nest had been removed when a large tree was pruned on the property. They wrote to their city councillor, pointing out the policy in the City’s Wildlife Strategy Report, approved by council in July 2013: “During the initial inspection of trees proposed for removal, Tree Inspectors make note of any evidence of animal use or potential habitat. They pass this information along to the crew assigned to the tree removal. When the tree removal crew arrives at the tree, they also inspect it for adult or juvenile animals. If the crew finds animals in the tree, then they leave it undisturbed and move on to the next tree. The crew will not return to work on the occupied tree until both the adults and juveniles have left. This procedure applies regardless of whether Forestry Services is removing one or many trees” (my emphasis).
We wanted to draw this information to your attention in that there are large numbers of trees in Ottawa slated for removal due to Emerald Ash Borer. As you know, the city has done too little, too late to save a lot of these trees. Given this and with the continuation of cold weather and the fact that there could be newborn baby squirrels in these nests very soon as the birthing season for this species starts as early as February, you might want to keep an eye out for any occupied dreys and tree removal and/or pruning work being undertaken in your area.
Letting your city councillor know of your concern in such situations might not only help to save some squirrels but will ensure that the City Wildlife Strategy’s positive words actually get implemented and are not just so much empty rhetoric.
Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre