As a suitable follow up from #WorldTurtleDay yesterday and to highlight the population of endangered Painted Turtles who make Burnaby Lake Regional Park their home.
While we usually think of invasive plants first, they also include animals and organisms that are not native to BC, and have serious impacts on our environment, economy and society. Invasive species can out-compete native species for food and space, damage ecosystems, disrupt food sources and introduce parasites and disease. Some of the most serious invasive species were originally sold as pets or plants for water gardens and aquariums.
Most pets don’t survive 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. Releasing a pet into an unsuitable habitat is also considered animal cruelty and charges can be laid (BC SPCA). However, several species have the ability to thrive and reproduce in their new environment.
The following exotic pet and plant species are commonly released into the wild, and have had serious impacts on BC’s native ecosystems and natural flora and fauna.
- Red Eared Slider Turtles
- European Rabbit
- American Bullfrog
- Koi Carp
- Eurasian Watermilfoil
- Parrot Feather
- Brazilian Elodea
For example, the Endangered Western Painted Turtle is a native Species at Risk within Burnaby Lake Regional Park and has faced many challenges with Red Eared Slider Turtles from pet shops that people have released into Burnaby Lake when they decide they no longer want their pet. with which they compete.
Plants and animals should never be released into the wild: For information on actions to take visit www.bcinvasives.ca and www.bcinvasivesmonth.com. Any sightings of these or other invasive species should be reported to the local invasive species committee. Remember to sign the Don’t Let It Loose Commitment Form.