BC SPCA applauds new government regulations on exotic animals

The B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is applauding the provincial government?s announcement of new regulations that will monitor the keeping and breeding of exotic wild animals. The BC SPCA, the province?s largest non-profit animal welfare organization, petitioned strongly for the changes introduced to the Wildlife Act last year, which provide better protection of exotic animals in captivity and greater safety measures for the public. The Controlled Alien Species Regulation announced yesterday by the Ministry of Environment outlines the specific animals that will be prohibited under the revised Wildlife Act.

Effective immediately, members of the public cannot breed, release or possess new animals on the list and individuals who are already in possession of a listed exotic animal will be required to apply for a permit and adhere to government requirements for animal care and public safety standards.

?Before these regulations came into effect this week there were no safeguards in place to prevent anyone from purchasing a tiger, a venomous snake or a crocodile over the Internet and keeping it in their home or on their property,? says Sara Dubois, the BC SPCA?s manager of wildlife services. ?Obviously this presented very serious public safety and animal welfare issues for communities.? She points to the death of a mother in 100 Mile House who was fatally mauled by her fiancé?s tiger in 2007. ?For some reason, people lose sight of the fact that these are wild or captive bred animals who do not lose their natural instincts just because they are living in a basement or in a yard,? says Dubois. ?They can, and do, cause very serious injury.? She adds that the BC SPCA?s Cruelty Investigations Department deals with numerous calls about exotic animals who are in distress because their owners do not have the facilities or expertise to properly care for them. ?Breeders and pet stores make huge profits selling exotics but the animals end up suffering from neglect and the SPCA has to intervene because the animals are in distress.?

She notes that while the BC SPCA is very pleased with the new regulations, the society would like to see the Controlled Alien Species list expanded in the future to monitor additional species such as kangaroos and zebras.

?We also have concerns that some exotics, such as reptiles under three metres in length, are not included on the list since some of these animals can still cause significant harm to humans,? says Dubois. ?However, the new regulations are an important step forward and we applaud the diligent work that Environment Minister Barry Penner and his staff have done. The regulations will now lend strong ministry support to our special constables who are often called out to investigate complaints of cruelty involving dangerous exotic wildlife.?

For more information on how you can support the BC SPCA?s work on behalf of wild animals, please visit spca.bc.ca/wildlife.