What is Don't Let It Loose?

Why Be Concerned

Invasive species are plants and animals that are not native to Canada and can have serious impacts on our environment, economy and human health. Some of Canada’s most harmful invasive species came from the intentional, improper disposal of aquariums and terrariums into our waters and other outdoor spaces.

Releasing pets into the wild is inhumane, dangerous and illegal

Some people believe that when they don’t want their pets any longer, the best thing to do for the animal is to release it into the wild. However, this is cruel, dangerous to the environment, and illegal.

Pet and Aquarium owners

Water gardeners, aquarium and terrarium owners can select from a variety of aquatic plants, invertebrates, reptiles and fish. Unfortunately, some of these exotic species have the potential to become invasive. When no longer wanted, pets are sometimes let loose into nearby water or woods, and plants are dumped into ditches and ponds, where they can have huge ecological and environmental impacts.

It is important for pet owners to understand the lifespan and long term needs of all pets before considering purchase or adoption. If you still end up with a bully in your aquarium or a Red-eared slider turtle that has outgrown its tank, be aware that letting plants and animals loose into the wild is not an appropriate solution.


Most pets don’t survive in the wild – some die by being killed by predators or hit by cars, and others die of starvation. It is inhumane to release an animal into an environment it is not accustomed to. Releasing a pet into an unsuitable habitat is also considered animal cruelty and charges can be laid.

Environmental Damage

Some exotic pets are able to thrive and reproduce in their new environment. Once established, they can take over their new habitat, reducing native populations and changing the structure of the ecosystem. Even if your aquatic pet is known to be native to the local environment, it should still never be released, as it may introduce diseases or invasive parasites into the local ecosystem.

Never Let Your Pet Loose

Never release your plants and animals into the wild or dump aquariums or water garden debris into rivers, streams, lakes or storm sewers! What you can do instead:

  1. Return: Contact the place where you purchased the pet and see if they will take it back.
  2. Rehome: Contact local science centres, zoos or aquariums to see if they can use the animal for educational purposes.
  3.  Dispose: Dry and freeze unwanted aquatic plants and dispose of in the garbage. For those who use baitfish, it is illegal to empty your bait bucket, drain the water or release live bait into a lake, river or other waters. Instead, you must: drain your bucket onshore (30 metres from the water) freeze the excess minnows for another day.
  4. Be Kind: If all else fails, have a qualified veterinarian euthanize the animal in a humane manner; it’s far kinder than letting it starve to death in the wild or destroy the homes of native animals and plants.
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Preventing Aquatic Invasive Species

Aquatic invasive species can be introduced accidentally or intentionally into Canadian waters by human activities. They can establish themselves in our waters and spread rapidly when they don’t face natural predators or competitors. Under the federal Aquatic Invasive Species Regulations, it is illegal to introduce an aquatic species into a body of water where it is not native, unless authorized under federal, provincial or territorial law.

In recent years, the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species has been much more rapid because of globalization, including increased international shipping, online shopping and travel. Prevention is the most efficient and cost-effective method of dealing with aquatic invasive species, including managing the pathways that they travel along to enter and spread in our waters.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada works with partners across Canada to prevent the introduction, establishment and spread of aquatic invasive species in our waterways.

Learn more about preventing aquatic invasive species and use of the below logos from Fisheries and Oceans Canada

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Take the Pledge!

Protect our lands and waterways from invasive species. When you take the Don’t Let it Loose Pledge, you agree to:

  • Never release plants and animals into the wild or waterways
  • Keep pets and livestock properly enclosed
  • Find safe and humane alternatives to releasing plants and animals into the wild
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
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Become a Don’t Let it Loose Partner

Join forces with like-minded individuals, organizations, and businesses Canada. Become a partner now!

Each partnership opportunity provides a variety of benefits to support shared goals at the level that feels right for you. The available benefits are listed when you choose the partner type that is right for you.

See current Don’t Let it Loose partners.


Encouraging a growing the number of individuals is fundamental to a successful behaviour change program. Across Canada, especially within key target groups and youth, the aim is to have responsible individuals gain awareness and personally ‘adopt’ a behaviour change program. Supporters are individuals who pledge to adopt Don’t Let it Loose. Supporters serve as role models and encourage others to join.

Organizational Partners

Organizational partners are critically important to sustaining Don’t Let it Loose and spreading its message and resources. As an organizational partner, you will receive various benefits, while contributing to the strength and sustainability of the program.

Multiple Program Partnerships

We currently offer partnerships for 4 of our national take action programs, including Clean Drain Dry, Buy Local Burn Local, Play Clean Go, and Don’t Let it Loose. Organizations interested in becoming partners for multiple programs will receive a discounted partnership rate. Please contact our Programs Coordinator at programs@canadainvasives.ca to learn more.

*Discount available for non-profit organizations
Supporter $40 Supporter (CCIS Member) $30 Organizational Partner Lvl 1 $150 Organizational Partner Lvl 1 (CCIS Member) $100 Organizational Partner Lvl 2 $400 Organizational Partner Lvl 2 (CCIS Member) $325
Organization name listed on CCIS’s ‘Partners’ webpage
Organization logo and link featured on CCIS’s ‘Partners’ webpage
Organization featured as a partner in CCIS’s quarterly e-newsletter
Free welcome swag
3 resources with partner’s logo added, provided in digital format
Use of program logo for marketing, communications and education
Access to Partner Library with all resource graphic and print files (access for up to 6 staff)
Complimentary customization of new or existing resource(s) (2 hours of graphic design)

Contributing Partners

Contributing partners are critically important to sustaining all of our programs. Contributing partners receive brand visibility and marketing opportunities through a variety of sponsor visibility packages, specific for each program. Each program website will profile the relevant contributing partners.

  • Contributing partners can select to be promoted in one or more of the changing behaviour programs through online, print or social media.
  • Contributing partners can choose to advertise in one or more program’s quarterly newsletter.
  • Contributing partners can be recognized through the social media campaigns for one or more programs.
  • Contributing partners may want to take advantage of the opportunity to put their brand on various Program resources.
  • Contributing partners are open to pursuing to customized sponsorship opportunities with the CCIS based on organizational needs and priorities.

Complete the form below to join now

  • $ 0.00 CAD
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
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More resources are coming soon and will be available in French and English. Stay tuned!

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