The owners of hundreds of exotic pets face heavy fines, jail, and the seizure and destruction of their animals when a new law governing non-native animals from frogs and snakes to tigers comes into effect April 1.
People who already owned any of the 1,200 animals listed under the Controlled Alien Species Regulation of the Wildlife Act before March 16, 2009, can obtain a free permit from the provincial government provided they can adequately house and care for the animal.
But keeping a cheetah, rhino, a black crested gibbon or any of the assorted frog, cat and reptile species on the government’s list without a permit could cost you a fine of up to $100,000 and one year in prison. And that’s for a first-time offender. Breeding or releasing such an animal into the wild could run you up to $250,000 and two years in prison.
Environment Ministry staff have received only a few dozen applications for possession permits and have not issued a single permit so far, according to Environment Minister Barry Penner. Alberta has issued 1,200 permits under similar regulations and ministry staff in B.C. believe there are at least as many animals on this province’s alien species list resident in B.C
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