What harm could it do to release a non-native animal into the wild?
The release of non-native species into an ecosystem can have long lasting and
devastating consequences for the indigenous flora and fauna including damage to crops, farmland
and property. A few examples of introduced species within Canada are:
Purple Luce Strife: Origin, Europe, now responsible for choking out our
wetlands, subsequently, habitat for native wildlife. (Imported as a ornamental flower)
Starlings and English Sparrows : Origin, Europe, due to the burgeoning
populations of these species, nesting habitats are depleted for our native song birds, in
particular, bluebirds.(Introduction through importation)
Mute Swans: Origin, Europe, A very aggressive and territorial bird that
defends it's territory vehemently. Preventing Canadian species such as our native trumpeter and
whistling swans from nesting. ( Imported as ornamental pets )
Zebra Mussels: Responsible for choking out our native fresh water flora and
fauna and multiplying to epidemic proportions. (Introduced by ocean going traffic within our
All of the above species have been introduced over the past century and have become ensconced
within our native flora and fauna each one creating unique problems. The survival of an
introduced specimen depends on many factors, however, the negative impact of these
introductions is often not realized until many years later or until it is too late. Non-native
species compete for habitat with our indigenous species. Non-native species introduce parasites
and disease to native animals who do not have the natural immunity. The latest discovery is
that some of these introduced species have been able to interbreed with native wildlife,
thereby, compromising the genetic integrity of native species. This fact alone could cause
certain species to become extinct within our Nation.
Exotic pets that are released into the wild are at risk from a variety of factors such as:
predation disease, starvation, competition for territory and inclement weather. Many of our
exotic pets, particularly, birds, reptiles, amphibians and terrapins have been captive raised
or imported from a warm climate. Many of these species will not survive our Canadian winters
such as the Red Eared Slider turtles which originate from the southern United States. Public
health officials have banned the sale of turtles as pets due to related concerns with
salmonella outbreaks. Throughout the world the introduction of rats, mongoose, feral cats, etc.
have caused extinction to native species of birds and animals in as little time as 60
The release or introduction of non-native plants or animals can have devastating
effects on the environment and to the welfare of the animal itself. This fact has been proven
again and again throughout the world due to the accidental or deliberate introduction of
non-native plants and animals to each continent. It is our responsibility to make sure that
these exotic or non-native species are dealt with humanely and lawfully. Importation, housing
and release of native and non-native species are regulated Federally and Provincially.
Contravention of these regulations could result in charges via the Canadian Wildlife Service or
the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.