Get Involved / Inspire a Kid / Joe, can I release my pet goldfish into my local fishing spot?

Joe, can I release my pet goldfish into my local fishing spot?

No - never let a pet of any kind loose in the wild

No - never let a pet of any kind loose in the wild. Pets can become an invasive species problem when owners let them loose. Pets like goldfish may grow much larger when released into the wild and reproduce quickly, disrupting the ecosystem. Under the right conditions, goldfish will take over a fishery, binding up resources that could be used by other species, like large largemouth bass.

For example, goldfish were recently illegally introduced into Renner Reservoir in the Cody area.  Goldfish are fast growing, with mature individuals averaging about 12 inches, but can grow to 19 -23 inches; all sizes that cannot be preyed on by largemouth bass. This is not ideal for the fishery or angler seeking an outstanding fishing experience. Further it will require additional time and effort to protect the resource that could have been spent on other high-priority fisheries issues.

When pets get too large or difficult to keep, some people think that letting them loose is the kind thing to do. That's not the case. Most pets will starve or freeze to death and those that do survive can cause significant impacts. Because an illegal fish introduction can have disastrous impacts to a fishery, even an entire watershed, the crime carries some of the highest penalties that exist for wildlife violations.

Don’t Let It Loose is a Game and Fish program that helps protect native species in Wyoming. To learn more about the program and what you can do with a pet that is no longer wanted, visit our website download our brochure.

-Joe Skorupski
Cody Regional Fish Biologist

(Photo: Invasive goldfish recently removed from Renner Reservoir. Goldfish don't turn orange when they reach 1-2 years old.)

- WGFD -

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