Don't dump pets in Burnaby ponds, city says

Province has big fines for dumping live, invasive species in B.C. waterways

The City of Burnaby is reminding pet owners it’s illegal to dump their unwanted animals in local lakes.

Melinda Yong, an environmental technician with the city, told the NOWshe received a phone call from a resident inquiring if it was legal to release goldfish outdoors. According to Yong, the woman didn’t want her goldfish anymore and was advised by a Vancouver pet store to release them in a Burnaby pond, so she was calling the city to confirm that was OK.

article continues below

“I did explain to the woman that it’s illegal to release any live fish into B.C.’s lakes or streams without (a) permit,” Yong wrote in an email to the NOW.

Common pet turtles and fish – like koi, goldfish and red-eared sliders – are considered invasive species because they are not naturally found in B.C. The animals can cause harm to the ecosystem’s delicate balance, because they may have no natural predators to keep their numbers in check and they can compete with native species for food.

Anyone caught releasing a live, invasive species in B.C. waterways can be fined $2,500 to $250,000 on the first conviction. Subsequent convictions can cost between $5,000 to $500,000.

Those penalties were introduced following the snakehead debacle at Burnaby’s Central Park pond. Two years ago, someone released an invasive snakehead fish into the pond, which led to a flurry of media coverage and the great snakehead hunt of 2012. Snakeheads are notorious for quickly multiplying and causing havoc on ecosytems with their voracious appetites. The Environment Ministry finally caught the fish, only after draining most of the pond. The incident led to stiffer penalties for releasing invasive species outdoors and a ban on live snakeheads in B.C.

The NOW called Pet Smart in Vancouver, and one of the staff told us that unwanted fish or reptiles can be taken to King Ed Pets or Island Pets, shops with locations in Burnaby. The Pet Smart staff member also said koi and goldfish would survive outside but that people could be fined $2,000 if they were caught dumping fish in local ponds. The same staff member also incorrectly suggested it was OK to dump fish in ponds in Coquitlam and at Simon Fraser University’s Burnaby campus.

Island Pets, however, will take fish of all shapes and sizes for resale in the store, and the owner gets a credit to use in the shop. Reptiles are also accepted, provided the shop has a big enough tank for them. Island Pets does not suggest people release their fish outdoors.

King Ed Pets also takes unwanted fish and resells them, but it’s rather rare, and manager Ronald Lee said the shop does not recommend dumping fish outdoors. 


Read Related Topics

© Burnaby Now


NOTE: To post a comment you must have an account with at least one of the following services: Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ You may then login using your account credentials for that service. If you do not already have an account you may register a new profile with Disqus by first clicking the "Post as" button and then the link: "Don't have one? Register a new profile".

Please keep your comments, clean, civil and respectful. Comments deemed inappropriate or libelous will be removed. The Burnaby NOW makes no guarantee of comments’ factual accuracy.

The Burnaby Now welcomes your opinions and comments. We do not allow personal attacks, offensive language or unsubstantiated allegations. We reserve the right to edit comments for length, style, legality and taste and reproduce them in print, electronic or otherwise. For further information, please contact the editor or publisher, or see our Terms and Conditions.

comments powered by Disqus

Popular Burnaby Now

Community Events Calendar