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Rural and wild animals

Living in a rural area can mean interactions with many different animals including livestock, wild animals, migratory birds and domestic pets. There are rules and regulations for:

  • keeping different types of animals
  • hunting
  • wildlife management

There are also things you should know about wild animals such as bears, coyotes, deer, foxes, wolves, as well as other mammals, birds and bats. You can find it all on the city’s website.


In the rural and suburban areas of our city, black bears occasionally encounter humans. While they are usually shy and stay away from humans, their search for food between mid-April and late fall means they will travel up to 100 km to find food.

Be bear aware: don’t leave pet food outdoors. If you have bird feeders, a barbecue, composter, fruit trees, sweet corn or grain fields on your property, be aware that bears might be attracted to the area.

The Bear Wise website offers some precautions you can take to minimize your chances of attracting black bears:

  • Put garbage out only on the morning of collection.
  • Store garbage in waste containers with tight-fitting lids.
  • Put away bird feeders and offer natural alternatives like flowers, nesting boxes and fresh water.
  • Clean outdoor grills after each use, including the grease trap underneath.

To deal with bear problems:

  • report any bear issues to the provincial Bear Reporting Line at 1-866-514-BEAR (2327)
  • if it’s a bear emergency, call police by dialling 9-1-1

To find out more about dealing with bears, including what farmers can do to keep bears at bay, visit the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Bear Wise website.

Small mammals

Encounters with many other types wildlife also occur in the city—ranging from squirrels on your porch to raccoons digging through your garbage. This is often a normal part of sharing our natural environment, but at times, these animals can be a nuisance or a danger.

If you have a problem with wildlife on your property, do not approach or remove the animal. It might become afraid and aggressive. It could also be carrying disease. Instead, call for help and have someone come in and take care of the situation.

Find out what to do with different types of wildlife, and who to call on the City of Ottawa website.

Feral cats

Feral cats are wild cats with no owner. They roam freely and have never lived with humans. They are a domesticated species that now live as wild animals.

The Ottawa Human Society believes in the following approach to managing cats in the city:  

  • Proper licensing and identification.
  • Neutering to prevent roaming and unwanted kittens.
  • Vaccinating to prevent the spread of disease.
  • Only allowing cats outside on a harness and under owner supervision.
  • Not feeding stray cats.

To find out more about what to do if you have a feral cat problem in your neighbourhood, read the OHS brochure on feral cats.