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Updated: Sat, 16 Aug 2014 16:49:26 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Goldfish dumped by Coquitlam pet owners become invasive species



Goldfish are breeding and proliferating in Como Lake leading the city to warn people against throwing them into local waterways. CBC

Goldfish are breeding and proliferating in Como Lake leading the city to warn people against throwing them into local waterways. CBC

They're easy to take care of, inexpensive and entertaining, but goldfish and other aquatic pets including exotic fish, turtles, bass and carp are getting into local waterways and breeding and competing with native species.

In Coquitlam, so many goldfish are winding up in Como Lake that the city is cracking down with hefty fines ranging from $2,500 to $250,000.

David Scott, from Simon Fraser University's School of Resource and Environmental Management, said there's good cause for concern.

"If you have non-native species that become established in let's say the Fraser River, they would be competing and influencing dozens of local species that we have here including salmon which are economically important," he said.

In 2012, the infamous snakehead fish eluded conservation officers for weeks. Scott was one of the SFU researchers who studied it.

People may think they're freeing a captive pet by throwing it into a local pond, he said. But the act can have bigger implications than most people realize, Scott warned.

So what do you do, if you don't want your pet fish or turtle anymore?  Many pet stores say they'll take them back.

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