The Canadian Council on Invasive Species is in the early stages of developing a National Don’t Let It Loose Campaign. See below for current information and check-in frequently for updates!

What is Don't Let It Loose?

Plants and animals that are not native to Canada can become invasive if they are released into our waters and onto our lands. These species are known as invasive species and can harm our environment, economy and human health.

You can help prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic and terrestrial invasive species. Never release aquarium pets, water garden plants, live food (example: fish, crabs, mollusks) or live bait into rivers, streams, lakes, ponds or storm sewers. Sport fish may only be released back into the waters from which they were caught (example: catch-and-release) – never move a sport fish from one body of water to another. Most pets released to the wild do not survive, and many suffer before they die. Pets are usually unable to find food or shelter in the wild and they are often an easy meal for another creature. If it does manage to survive, your pet becomes an invasive species that native wildlife may not have the defenses to compete against.

Stop the spread of aquatic invasive species – don’t let it loose.

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Report Invasive Species

Early detection and rapid response are key to preventing the spread of invasive species. Early detection and rapid response increase the likelihood that localized invasive populations can be found, contained and eradicated before they become widely established. It can slow the spread and avoid the need for expensive, long-term control efforts.

Some provinces and territories have reporting systems that allow citizens and groups to report invasive species they come across, as well as join a ‘Spotters Network’; a network of citizens scientists who actively monitor for new invasive species. Find reporting options from across Canada here.

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Pets and plants from aquariums, ponds or water gardens

Many animals and plants sold for aquariums and water gardens are not native to Canada. Some owners think that releasing a pet that becomes too large, too difficult to care for or that they no longer want is the most compassionate thing to do. This is not true.

Domestic pets generally do not have the survival skills to live beyond their tank or pond. They can starve to death or may be eaten by predators in the wild. In some cases, they may survive, reproduce and spread, becoming invasive to the area they have been released in. Even if your pet is native to the local environment, it should never be released, as it may be carrying diseases or parasites.


Goldfish have been introduced worldwide. They are established in locations throughout all provinces of Canada and all of the United States except Alaska.




Fish aren’t the only problem! Small pieces or seeds from water garden plants can also thrive and cause an invasion if released. Invasive plants, such as flowering rush and pale yellow iris have been introduced throughout Canada.


What you should do instead

Be a responsible pet and plant owner and care.

  • Ask a friend or someone else if they can adopt your pet or plant. Using social media, community lists or online classified ads may be helpful.
  • Contact the pet store or place where you purchased your pet to see if they can take it back.

Research other places that may be able to provide a new home for your pet, such as animal shelters, animal sanctuaries, humane societies, science centres, zoos, aquariums, schools or community organizations.

  • Research pets and plants before buying or adopting. Know how large they will get, how long they will live and how much work they entail. Make sure you are willing to fully commit to their lifetime of care. If you see potential issues in caring for them long-term, consider an alternative.
  • Know what pets and plants are legal to own. Only buy them from reputable retailers whose species are properly labelled, especially when buying online.
  • When gardening, select plants that are native to your region. They will be more likely to thrive and are better for local bees, butterflies, reptiles, amphibians and birds.
  • Ensure water gardens and ponds are contained with no chance of any species or water escaping into other water systems.
  • Ensure any water released from aquariums, ponds or water gardens is done on land and away from household drains, sewers or other bodies of water.
  • As a last resort, contact a qualified veterinarian to euthanize your pet in a humane manner. This is far kinder than letting it starve to death in the wild or destroy the homes of native species.
  • If your pet dies, don’t flush it down the toilet. Bury it instead so it can’t spread diseases.
  • Dry and freeze plants in tightly sealed bags before throwing them in the trash. Do not compost them.
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Live food, bait and sportfish

Coming soon!

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Exotic Pets

Coming soon!

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Coming soon!

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