even native species- cannot be released into the wild
under any circumstance. There are many, many
reasons it is illegal, immoral, and unethical to release
pet reptiles into the wild. Some of them are
reasons it is illegal to release is that pets
are often used to humans. It is extremely dangerous for
any wild animal to be comfortable around people, as most
individuals do not take kindly to being approached by
wildlife. Usually wild animals are killed by humans when
they get too close, and pets are prone to approach
humans in search of an easy meal. Releasing a pet could
be signing it's death warrant.
Most exotic pets are not
native to the area of release, but often they will adapt
to the environment and cause problems within the local
ecosystem. These invasive species usually take food,
habitat, and resources from our native wildlife.
Sometimes the invasive species will eat our native
wildlife, significantly depleting numbers. Often the
native animals being affected and pushed out by invasive
species are those which are endangered or unstable to
begin with. An excellent example of invasive species in
Ohio are red eared slider turtles.
Another reason it is illegal
to release pets is because of the possibility of disease
transmission. A pet reptile could have picked up an
illness, bacteria, parasites, etc in captivity that
other wild animals have never been exposed to. Many of
these conditions do not exhibit symptoms or give any
indication that an animal is infected. Pets often come
through distributors, importers, breeders, pet stores,
trade shows, and/or flea markets, and often animals in
these situations are subjected to severe overcrowding,
malnourishment, and other poor husbandry conditions that
can have detrimental effects on health. Pets can spread
these illnesses and disease to wildlife, which can lead
to significant damage to wild populations.
These are only some of the
reasons that releasing your pet into the wild can potentially harm other
wildlife or cause some ecological disaster, and your
pet's life would be at risk any time it came across a
human. But released pets are not the only threat; even
wildlife should not be released after being kept in
captivity for many of the same reasons.
Furthermore, many pets
released into the wild locally cannot survive the
extreme temperature swings common to our area. Their
preferred food source may not exist here, and many
reptiles cannot hibernate through the winter. Exotic pet
reptiles released locally will most certainly die in a
short period of time.
If that isn't enough reason to
keep some from releasing their pets into the wild,
perhaps this will... IT IS ILLEGAL. Yes, you can be
fined. Yes, you can be cited and hauled into court. Yes,
there are penalties if you get caught. Because of the
reasons stated in this article, it is against the law to
release an animal into the wild.
Even for rehabilitators, the
ODNR Division of Wildlife sets down some pretty strict
rules and regulations about native reptiles and wildlife
in Ohio. If a wild animal is found, it can only be
released by an authorized wildlife rehabilitator, and
even then the animal must be released in the location
found. If an animal has been in captivity for more than
a ceratin period of time, it can never be released into the wild again.
If it has been exposed to other animals, pets, or
wildlife, it can never be released. If you find a wild
animal and it is not injured or in danger, the best
advice is to leave it alone. It is acceptable to move an
animal from a roadway or other obvious danger, but be
sure to leave the animal in the immediate vicinity.
Moving them around won't reduce the chances of being hit
by a car or finding people. They are mobile and always
seem to find trouble somehow.
We hope that you have found
this information useful in helping you make an informed,
responsible decision regarding your pet. We are
confident that most individuals, once made aware of
these potential ramifications, would not be so foolish
as to release a pet into the wild. There is much more at
stake than most people are aware of.