'Well-meaning' animal rescuers risk hefty fines, lives: Victoria sanctuary
The sanctuary says it has seen an increase in the number of people capturing and dropping off native reptiles and amphibians. (Supplied)
Emily Olsen, CTV Vancouver Island
Published Monday, June 10, 2019 2:02PM PDT
Last Updated Monday, June 10, 2019 6:01PM PDT
"Leave no trace" and "leave it how you found it" are common expressions in the outdoors community.
The sentiments are being amplified this week by a Victoria nature sanctuary that is concerned by the number of people dropping off captured animals at its facility.
Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary released a public service announcement Monday asking people to stop picking up and trapping animals like frogs, snakes and turtles in the area.
The announcement was triggered by a significant increase in the number of creatures brought in by community members over the last five years.
The PSA explains that displacing frog and reptile species endangers them and is often detrimental to the entire ecosystem.
"The days of catching and collecting tadpoles and lizards are over," it reads. "Simply the process of catching them is extremely stressful to animals and puts their lives at risk."
As outlined in the Wildlife Act, capturing wild animals is against the law and people caught displacing wildlife can receive a minimum fine of $2,000 from a conservation officer.
Swan Lake acknowledges that the incidents weren’t intended to be malicious and captures are being done by "well-meaning people," but the best option for an animal that is injured, sick or in a bad spot is to leave it alone and contact any of the following organizations with a photo and location:
The sanctuary is known for its programs on amphibians and reptiles and houses a variety of creatures for educational purposes, but it isn't equipped for rehabilitation.
The number of people displacing creatures from their habitats to bring in to the sanctuary has program naturalist Coral Forbes concerned.
"It is very exciting to see a native animal up close, held captive in a tank. But it is so much more rewarding to witness the same animals in their natural habitat finding all that they need and thriving with others of their kind," Forbes said.
"Our need for ‘nature on demand’ is not sustainable and actually puts the very animals we love at risk. Instead, please visit natural areas and see these amazing creatures out where they belong," said Forbes. "Throw on a snorkel and mask and visit the newts under the water at Lizard Lake, visit Spencer’s Pond to see a vast array of amphibians, or go on a tour of the Haliburton Wetland project. But, please, do your part and leave the wildlife where it is, as it was meant to be."
Moving an animal is illegal without a permit or regulation and anyone caught doing so is subject to hefty fines.
The Wildlife Act has a number of subsections that mandate captured animals may be euthanized if they have endured stress or injury and can no longer thrive as a result.
Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary has special permits to keep captive native animals which would otherwise likely have been euthanized.