By Larry Kusch
The global trade in exotic pets is a multi-billion business and sales in Manitoba are on the rise, states a provincial report commissioned in the aftermath of the tragedy in New Brunswick last month that saw two small boys killed by an African rock python.
And although some exotic animals can pose risks to human safety and health, the government has, until now, lacked a co-ordinated approach to dealing with them. Instead, a patchwork of provincial laws, spanning several departments, govern the creatures, the report says.
"Industry representatives estimate the trade value in reptiles alone to be approximately $250,000 annually within the province. This is expected to double in the next two to five years, based on current trends," chief provincial veterinarian Wayne Lees said in his report.
The report also said there are likely "tens of thousands" of reptiles kept or bred as pets in Manitoba.
The 19-page document, a copy of which was obtained by the Free Press, recommends the province launch a targeted public awareness campaign to inform owners on the safe handling and proper care of exotic pets. It also suggests the government work with the Association of Manitoba Municipalities to develop a template or guidelines for the creation of local bylaws on exotic-pet ownership and possession. (The City of Winnipeg, which recently updated its rules governing the ownership of wild and domesticated animals, has one of the most comprehensive bylaws in the country.)
Down the road, the report says, the province could create an interdepartmental strategy on exotic pets and, if need be, pass legislation to further regulate and license pet stores, breeders and owners of exotic animals. More....