FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, June 17, 2016, Williams Lake, BC—As the school year comes to a close, the Invasive Species Council of BC is asking teachers and parents not to release classroom pets, insects, fish or aquarium plants into the wild.
Releasing unwanted pets is not humane or ethical.
Some people believe that when they don’t want their pets or aquarium plants any longer, the best thing to do is to release them into the wild. However, this is cruel, as most non-native pets will not survive in the wild because of predators, the difference in climate and the inability to find food and shelter. The ones that do thrive and reproduce cause major problems to the environment and native populations.
Invasive Species Impacts
The economic impact of invasive species in Canada is significant. According to Environment Canada, the estimated annual cumulative lost revenue caused by just 16 invasive species is between $13 to $35 billion. For BC, an estimated combined damage of just six important invasive plants cost the province at least $65 million in 2008. With further spread, impacts would more than double to $139 million by 2020!
BC’s “Pet” Invasives….
Some common invasive species that have damaged British Columbia’s environment and economy – American bullfrogs, Red-eared slider turtles, European rabbits and Eurasian watermilfoil – started as classroom pets and aquarium plants. Red-eared slider turtles are taking over the habitat of the Western painted turtle and spread diseases, while Eurasian watermilfoil has now spread to all the major lakes in the Okanagan and Lower Mainland, invading native plant communities and causing park closures as it can obstruct swimming and other water sports. Other introduced invasive pet and plant species include the Round goby, Rusty crayfish, Parrot feather and Yellow flag iris.
When dealing with classroom plants, insects and animals at the school year’s end, here are some tips to properly dispose of them:
- Donate unwanted plants and animals to an accredited environmental learning centre, pet rescue centre aquarium or zoo. You also may contact your local pet store, which might be willing to accept them. Please instruct them to never release them either.
- Contact a veterinarian or pet retailer for guidance on humane disposal of live animals.
- Seal all plants in a plastic bag, freeze for at least 24 hours or until frozen solid, and then place them in the trash. Do not compost the material.
- Flush aquarium water down the toilet. Disinfect aquarium and non-organic materials with a bleach solution of one cup household bleach per gallon of water. Let sit for 10 minutes, then rinse thoroughly.
If you suspect you have an invasive plant, fish, mollusk or crustacean, please report the sighting to the Invasive Species Council of BC at 1-888-933-3722, email us at email@example.com, or contact the BC Ministry of Environment at www.gov.bc.ca/invasive-species
ISCBC has an education program called Don’t Let It Loose, that focuses on invasive pets and plants, and provides educators and the public with information and resources such as decals and information sheets. Contact Sue Staniforth for more information and to get a free set of decals: firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t Let It Loose BC!