SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Department of Wildlife is warning people against releasing pets into the wild.
DWR officials said on Wednesday that dumping animals into local lakes or rivers may have “damaging ramifications,” in addition to being illegal.
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During their most recent state investigation to obtain data on the number of fish populations, DWR biologists found two bodies of water with illegal fish and koi carp in two community ponds in central l ‘Utah.
The illegal dumping of pets, or by an angler hoping to introduce a species into a lake or reservoir, “can wreak havoc on the ecosystem of this fishery,” the department said.
“Any illegal introduction of a fish into a body of water is harmful and can have many negative consequences,” said Randy Oplinger, coordinator of DWR Sportfish. “Illegal fish species can prey on and compete with other fish species, including sport fish, native fish and endangered fish species. They can also introduce diseases and have a negative impact on water quality. It is very expensive and time consuming – often requiring rotenone treatments that kill all fish – to restore these bodies of water after the illegal introduction of fish. Illegal introductions of fish rarely improve the fishery – instead, illegal introductions usually ruin the fishery and threaten the species that live there. “
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Illegal dumping is a Class A offense in Utah.
Authorities have also warned residents of Utah against keeping illegal reptile species as pets in the state. They cited a Springville man who kept rattlesnakes as pets before a search warrant was served in November and the man was convicted of several Class B offenses.