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Animal Services - Releasing wildlife

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 inland waterways)
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 years.
In Conclusion
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.






Contact:
Education Department
905-896-5000
education.animalservices@mississauga.ca


pcomapp02:8851

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