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AZGFD: Letting your pets go free in the wild can be disastrous

(Pexels/Gabriel P)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Game and Fish Department is warning people not to let their exotic animals loose in the wild.

Introduced pets, including goldfish and tropical fish, can have devastating effects on native wildlife and ecosystems, the AZGFD said in a press release Wednesday.

Not only could nonnative fish outcompete with native species for food and space, exotic pets could also prey on native fish and have a negative impact on native and sport fish populations.

Given time to acclimate, a goldfish can lose its bright color and grow up to five pounds, looking more like a crappie than an aquarium fish.

It’s not just tropical fish, either, as turtles, lizards and other exotic pets have made their way into the Arizona ecosystem.

If anyone comes across a nonnative species, the AZGFD asks individuals to take a photo and mark the location found and report it to the Aquatic Invasive Species Program at 623-236-7608.

If it’s a species found listed on Director’s Order 1, such as a snakehead or Asian carp, the AZGFD asks those in possession to place the fish on so it can be collected for testing.

The department urges those looking to get rid of their exotic pets to contact their local animal shelter.

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