ALBERTA

Goldfish The Size Of Dinner Plates Showing Up In Alberta Waterways

06/24/2015 12:53 EDT | Updated 06/26/2015 01:59 EDT

Goldfish the size of dinner plates are turning up in Alberta waterways, and it's partly because Albertans are letting their pet fish loose in the wild.

The province has launched a "Don't Let It Loose" awareness campaign, asking people to refrain from releasing the contents of their aquariums, as goldfish are an invasive species and have been turning up in lakes from Lethbridge to Fort McMurray, reports CBC news.

The campaign will target pet owners, animal rescue organizations that release captive animals back to the wild, pet stores, aquarium supply stores, and markets that sell live fish

Kate Wilson, aquatic invasive species coordinator at Alberta Environment and Parks, told CBC that 40 fish were recently pulled from a storm pond in the municipality of Wood Buffalo.

"That's really scary because it means they're reproducing in the wild, they are getting quite large and they are surviving the winters that far north," she said.

According to the National Post, goldfish remain small when contained in aquariums and fish tanks, but when released to the wild they can grow exponentially. Their impact on local waters and species is not well known.

However, it's not just live goldfish that cause a problem. Fish that have already passed on to fishy heaven can carry disease and parasites that could get into a water system.

Instead, pet owners should bury or throw away dead fish, Wilson told Fort McMurray Today.

CORRECTION:

It was initially reported that goldfish are making their way into the Alberta's waterways due to people flushing their pets down the toilet. However, the "Let it Loose" campaign focuses on discouraging people from releasing their fish and other invasive species directly into the waterways.

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