Some of the most serious invasive species were originally sold as pets or plants for water gardens and aquariums.

Some people believe that when they don’t want their pets any longer, or it has become too much for them to care for, the best thing to do for the animal or plant is to release it into the ‘wild’. Unfortunately, these exotic species often thrive and reproduce in this new environment and have the potential to become invasive. Once established, they can take over their new habitat, reducing native populations and changing the structure of the ecosystem. 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.

Invasive plants can have just as much of an impact as invasive animals! Invasive aquatic plants can reduce the habitat for our native plants, which threatens species of insects, fish, animals and other plants that depend on native plants. As invasive plants begin rapidly reproducing, they reduce the overall biological diversity of ecosystems, negatively effect water quality and interfere with recreational opportunities.

Releasing pets into the wild is inhumane, illegal and can cause irreversible damage to the environment.

Under the Fisheries (Alberta) Act, a prohibited species list has been created that has 52 species of aquatic invasive fish, plants and invertebrates, all of which are now illegal to be imported, sold, transported or possessed in Alberta. Individuals releasing fish into public waters can face penalties up to $100,000 and a year in prison.

Never release your plants and animals into the wild or dump aquariums or water garden debris into rivers, streams, lakes or storm sewers!

What Should I Do Instead?

Unwanted pets can be disposed of humanely by returning them to pet stores, donating to schools, science centres, zoos, community organizations, or given away. If all else fails, have a qualified veterinarian euthanize the animal in a humane manner; it’s far kinder than letting it starve to death in the wild or destroy the homes of native animals and plants.

Make sure to bury your fish after it passes away, as flushing it down the toilet can lead to the spread of unwanted diseases.

Dry and freeze unwanted aquatic plant material and add it to non-composted trash.

If you spot an invasive species, call 1-855-336-2628 (BOAT) or report it EDDMapS Alberta.