Lions And Zoos

Lions, tigers and bears: Saskatchewan tightens captive wildlife rules

Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation executive director Darrell Crabbe is concerned that the import of exotic wildlife poses a threat to native species.

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Saskatchewan crocodile owners will have to say goodbye.

Under the new provincial captive wildlife rules, reptiles are among the animals placed on a list of “openly dangerous” and illegal creatures that cannot be kept as pets in the province.

By Nov. 30, they and other animals deemed dangerous must be shipped out of the province, transferred to a licensed facility like a zoo, or humanely euthanized, said Joann Skilnick, unit director of the fauna of the Ministry of the Environment.

The changes aim to modernize the captive wildlife rules the province first introduced in 1982, according to a press release on Tuesday.

The rules list two categories of restricted animals: Division 1 for dangerous animals, such as crocodiles, or those that were already illegal, and Division 2 for animals currently kept as pets. The latter group of pet owners can keep their animals, but must notify the Environment Department before Nov. 30, according to a press release.

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Skilnick said the new rules also create a list of 600 species that people can keep as pets without a license.

The news follows growing interest in the illegal wildlife trade, she said.

If exotic wildlife escapes, Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation executive director Darrell Crabbe is concerned it poses a threat to native species.

That’s why he’s hoping the new rules get ahead of wildlife-related challenges facing other jurisdictions, including examples of big cats escaping captivity in the United States.

“We don’t know exactly how many species might already be in our province,” he said.

Bonnie Dell, president of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan, said another key element was the tightening of permits for wildlife. Softer rules once made it easy for pet owners to keep animals like raccoons, hares, sparrows and crows – but it often went badly for the animals, she said.

Captivity of wildlife has become an even more pressing issue for her. One of the biggest trends she saw over the past year was that more residents were adopting wild animals as pets, she said. Just this week, his team released a young moose who lived in someone’s spare bedroom.

When the calf was rescued, it was starving, having been fed powdered milk, Dell said.

In other cases, a family has kept a baby badger until adulthood. Meanwhile, someone who adopted a vulture left it by the side of the road with a broken wing. The bird had to be euthanized, Dell said.

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She’s worried about some rule changes – like restricting coyote rehabilitation – but the updates are badly needed, she said.

“We hope these new regulations will convince people to bring these animals in or call us on the hotline. WWe will bring them to a permit (rehabilitation) and give this animal its best chance.

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