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For Immediate Release


March 17, 2009

Ministry of Environment




VICTORIA – New rules regulating alien species that pose the most serious threat to public safety will take effect immediately, announced Environment Minister Barry Penner.  


            “British Columbians shouldn’t have to worry about being harmed in their community by dangerous, foreign animals like tigers, pythons or alligators,” said Penner. “Protecting public safety is our number one priority and this new regulation is intended to do just that.”


            The provincial government has identified species that are a sufficient risk to public safety to warrant regulation. These include some types of mammals, amphibians and reptiles. The new Controlled Alien Species Regulation under the Wildlife Act contains a list of species that individuals are prohibited from possessing unless the animal was in B.C. prior to March 16, 2009. The regulation also includes restrictions on possessing, breeding, transporting and releasing animals that are currently in British Columbia.


            “The B.C. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals applauds the diligent work of the environment minister and his staff to formally recognize and address the public safety risks of possessing foreign wildlife which were previously unregulated,” said Sara Dubois, manager of Wildlife Services for the BC SPCA. “It will finally provide legal direction and ministry support to our officers who are often called upon to investigate complaints of cruelty involving dangerous foreign wildlife.” 


            Individuals who are in possession of a listed animal that was in B.C. before March 16, 2009 may be able to keep the animal until its death if they comply with a number of requirements and restrictions. They must apply for, and be granted, a permit from the Ministry of Environment between Nov. 1, 2009 and March 31, 2010. They must not breed or release the animals in question.

            All breeding of these animals will be prohibited as of April 1, 2010 unless they are in the possession of an accredited zoo, research or educational institution. Under special circumstances, a person involved in breeding one of the controlled alien species as an established and registered business may be granted a permit to breed for a defined period.

            Accredited zoos, research and educational institutions can continue to acquire, breed and possess the listed species, but they will be required to apply for, and be granted, a permit for each animal in their possession beginning Nov. 1, 2009.

            Effective immediately, the film industry will be required to apply for a permit for temporarily bringing any listed animals into B.C. and must remove those same animals from B.C. when their film shoot is completed.


            In May 2007, Tania Dumstrey-Soos was killed by a caged tiger on a residential property in Bridge Lake, near 100 Mile House. In December 2007, a Surrey man lost his finger after being bitten by an alien, poisonous cobra. While B.C. hospitals carry anti-venom for rattlesnakes native to the province, they can’t anticipate all the different types of snakes people may import into B.C.

            Penalties for violating the new restrictions may result in one or more of the following; a maximum fine of $250,000 and/or up to two years of imprisonment, seizure of the animal and removal from the province at the owner’s expense, or seizure of the animal and transport to an accredited zoo at the owner’s expense. If removal is not possible, the animal may be euthanized.


            The full list of controlled alien species and the requirements and restrictions under the new regulation contained in the Wildlife Act are posted on the Ministry of Environment website at





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Kate Thompson

Manager, Media Relations

250 953-4577


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