Don't release unwanted, gifted animals into wild, officials warn

Dec 18 2019, 2:41 pm

BC officials are reminding the public to be cautious when gifting pets this holiday season, because releasing them into the wild poses a threat to both the animals and the environment alike.

According to the Invasive Species Council of BC (ISCBC) there is a common misconception that releasing unwanted animals into the wild is a good thing for pets.

“Some people believe that when they don’t want their pets any longer, the best thing to do for the animal is to release it into the wild. However, this is cruel, dangerous to the environment, as well as illegal,” says its website.

The council looks at and provides information on the biogeography and identification of the invasive plants and animal species in the province.

“Invasive species are plants, animals, or other organisms that are not native to BC, and have serious impacts on our environment, economy and society,” says the ISCBC.

Invasive species, like the pets and animals that aren’t used to living in BC’s environment, then pose a threat to the surrounding environment, including out-competing native species “for food and space, damage ecosystems, disrupt food sources and introduce parasites and disease.”

Further, the ISCBC says that not all pets are able to survive out in the wild.

“Some die by being killed by predators or hit by cars, and others die of starvation. It is inhumane to release an animal into an environment it is not accustomed to,” says the ISCBC.

Releasing a pet into an “unsuitable habitat” is also considered animal cruelty and charges can be laid by the BC SCPCA, with fines of up to $10,000.

When it comes to aquatic animals, the ISCBC says the same rules apply.

“Even if your aquatic pet is known to be native to the local environment, it should still never be released, as it may introduce diseases or invasive parasites into the local ecosystem,” says the ISCBC.

So although adorable animals may feel like the perfect gift, pet parenting is a huge commitment, so always check in and ask beforehand.

A full list of the ISCBC’s tips is available online.