Releasing Pets into the Wild

Why pets should not be released into the wild

by fballguy

It has come to my attention that there are too many people who are not aware of the dangers of releasing pets into the wild. Sometimes a fish will outgrow an aquarium, so the owner, while looking out for the well being of their pet, makes a careless, often costly mistake. Common aquarium pets have done damage to eco systems in many places. The Florida Everglades are a perfect example. At one time, the largemouth bass was the predominate species in the Everglades. In the late 1950s, oscars began to appear in Miami canals. Today, they are the predominate species in the Florida Everglades. Largemouth bass have moved down the food chain, forced to make room for this aggressive species from South America. According to this site, the oscars are competing for food better than largemouth bass, as well as eating a large percentage of their fry. Because of this, largemouth bass in the Everglades are no longer as plentiful, or as big as they once were.

Here is what Vermont biologist Shawn Good has to say, ""It seems that the general public is largely unaware of the dangers posed by releasing aquarium fish into Vermont's waters, I can't stress enough how serious this is. Some aquarium fish, plants and other aquatic animals such as exotic snails can devastate Vermont's natural habitats and severely impact our native aquatic ecosystems if they are released into the wild. They may also introduce dangerous disease organisms that can severely impact native fish and wildlife populations."

Here is a list of reasons to not release pets into the wild from this site
Released fish will be physiologically stressed upon introduction to a different environment.
• They will be susceptible to parasites and diseases.
• They might be attacked by native predators, such as larger fish, fish-eating birds, or water snakes.
• If exotic fish survive and reproduce, they are difficult, if not impossible to control or eradicate.
• They may cause changes in the existing aquatic community through competition with native species or predation on them, as well as through overcrowding or aggressive behavior.
• They may infect native fish with exotic parasites or diseases.
• An exotic may also affect the genetics of native species by hybridizing with them.
• Sole species may pose a physical or public health threat, such as piranhas and freshwater stingrays.

There are at least 185 different species of exotic fish that have been found in United States waters. 75 of these have established a breeding population. Florida, Texas, and the Southwest U.S. have the biggest problem due to warmer climate, which tropical species survive in. "Examples include a number of cichlid, such as the oscar, Jack Dempsey, jewelfish, convict cichlid, Midas cichlid, and spotted tilapia; and livebearers, such as swordtails, platies and mollies, and armored catfishes. The goldfish, a native of China, is one of the few examples of a temperate aquarium species that is established throughout the U.S." link

The United States alone spends $120 billion each year managing introduced Penalties for releasing pets into the wild include fines, and in some states, imprisonment. So save yourself and your tax dollars, and please either keep your pets, or give them to a person, store, or organization who will take care of them.
Rather than releasing your pets into the wild, find a friend who will take them. Another option would be to take them to a locally owned pet store and donate them. You may also get store credit depending on the store.

Above links and other notable sites: