The days of catching tadpoles and lizards at the pond are over, according to a Saanich nature sanctuary.
The Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary Society issued a news release this week, warning the public of the dangers of removing reptiles and amphibians from their natural habitats.
“Our reptile and amphibian populations are small, fragmented and over half of these species in the province are at risk of becoming endangered,” the group wrote. “Therefore, it is imperative that every individual remains healthy and a part of the breeding population.”
The group noted it isn’t a zoo or rehabilitation facility.
Native wildlife does not thrive in captivity and the sanctuary stressed it does not endorse collecting and keeping native animals.
“It is actually against the law, as outlined in the Wildlife Act, and you can receive a fine from a Conservation Officer no matter how well intentioned you are.”
Anyone who has illegally collected an animal without a permit should return the animal to where they found it, according to the sanctuary. Releasing the reptile or amphibian in a different area is stressful on the animal, because of competition with others for space, food and shelter.
The only exception to the rule is if the animal has been in contact with a pet store or aquarium products.
“Pet stores and aquariums are common vectors for disease transmission and any animal that has been exposed to pet store/aquarium food or supplies cannot be released back into the wild and risk infecting the entire population,” the nature sanctuary wrote.
The B.C. Frogwatch program can provide more guidance to anyone who believes, or is worried, a reptile or amphibian has been in contact with a pet store or with aquarium products.