Greenspace: Don’t set fish free — surrender them

October 8, 2018


Are you regretting that fish tank purchase? Beta just a little too aggressive for your home?

Flushing an unwanted fish down the toilet seems cruel, and returning them to a pet store often is not an option.

That’s why, for many people, releasing an aquatic pet into the nearest lake or river seems like the best way to get it out of the house without outright killing the gilled critter.

In Duluth, Minn., Sea Grant, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has another, better solution this weekend: surrendering them.

Today, Saturday, Sea Grant is partnering with a Duluth-area pet store and an animal shelter to collect unwanted aquatic pets and plants.

For the past few years, Animal Allies Humane Society, also of Duluth, has hosted and helped with the collection event.

“We realize our work in fostering compassion for nonhuman animals reaches far beyond the cats and dogs served by our shelter,” Shawna Weaver, the humane education manager for Animal Allies, said.

Fish and other aquatic animals rarely survive seemingly humane releases into rivers and lakes, Weaver said, and even if they do, their relocation could have serious consequences for native plants and animals.

Tank animals can carry bacteria and organisms that could infect other animals, or they could spread and choke out native flora and fauna — which is bad for our rivers and lakes.

Still not sold?

The surrendered pets may go to an aquatics store, or could even be re-adopted through a few Minnesota organizations, Weaver added.

About 500 pets were surrendered in the last two years of the event, according to a press release.

Not planning to be in Duluth this weekend with your aquatic pets? Don’t panic!

If people have an exotic animal to surrender after the event, they can call Sea Grant for advice, Weaver said. The phone number is 218-726-8106.

“Most importantly, do not release these animals into the wild, please do not breed them for profit, and do consider adopting domesticated pets in the future, as they are far happier and healthier living in our homes with us,” Weaver said.

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