The Wyoming Game and Fish Department wants to remind all pet owners to never release a pet into any of Wyoming’s ponds rivers or natural places. To release an animal because you no longer care for them is a cruel practice and illegal. This can negatively harm both the animal and the environment.
“Pets can become an invasive species problem when owners let them loose,” said Josh Leonard, Game and Fish aquatic invasive species coordinator. “From tropical fish to snakes to turtles — do not release your pets.”
When a pet gets too large, unmanageable, or difficult to keep, some people think letting them go outside is the kind thing to do. This is not the case, most pets are not adapted to the local environment and will freeze and starve to death. Those that do survive will cause long-term damage to the local environment. To release a pet is a crime that carries some of the highest penalties of any type of wildlife violation.
“Releasing a pet as small as a goldfish can have devastating effects on native wildlife. They can reproduce quickly, disrupting the ecosystem. They may compete with native fish for habitat and spread diseases,” Leonard said.
If you find yourself no longer able to care for your pet or no longer want it. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department asks that you follow the CARE system:
- Contact the place where you purchased the pet to see if they will take it back.
- Act Responsibly by never letting animals or plants loose into the wild.
- Research other places that may be able to provide a new home for your pet. Pet stores, zoos, aquariums, science centers, animal shelters, and humane societies may be able to help.
- Euthanize the animal in a humane way. It may be hard to consider, but this option is far kinder than letting it starve to death in the wild or destroy the homes of native animals. Always freeze unwanted plants and throw them out in the trash.
The release of non-native species is one of the most destructive things that can happen to the environment nationwide. Such as the establishment of plecostomus armored catfish in South Florida, Snakeheads in the Chesapeake, and Silver Carp in the Mississippi River. Please do not add to that by releasing your unwanted pets into our waterways. Most fish stores will be willing to take in your pets or help you find a solution.
Game and Fish has a program called Don’t Let It Loose that helps protect native species in Wyoming. To learn more about the program and what you can do with a pet that is no longer wanted, visit the website download our brochure.