Canadians are calling on their government to help stop the global commercial wildlife trade through a House of Commons e-petition started by the global charity World Animal Protection. With over 13,000 signatures the petition was presented in the House of Commons on May 5th by Conservative Health Critic and Member of Parliament for Calgary Nose Hill, Michelle Rempel Garner.
It urges the government to support the closure of wildlife markets and commit to end the international and domestic trade in wild animals and wild animal parts to prevent the spread of zoonotic diseases. This includes where animals are used for luxury fashion and as exotic pets.
This petition comes on the heels of a recent report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) citing the likely role the wildlife trade played in transmitting COVID-19 from animals to people.
New recommendations were also recently issued by the WHO, The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) to reduce the risks associated with the wildlife trade. The three agencies are urging nations to suspend the trade in live caught wild mammals for food and breeding and close sections of markets selling live wild mammals.
World Animal Protection has been calling on Canada and other G20 nations to commit to curbing the wildlife trade. Some countries have started to listen. Recently, Italy which holds the G20 Presidency, approved a ban on the import, detention and trade of wild and exotic animals.
“This is a global problem, requiring a global solution and Canada needs to step up to the plate,” says Melissa Matlow, Campaign Director for World Animal Protection Canada. “Seventy-five per cent of new and emerging infectious diseases affecting human health over the past decade originated from animals, principally from wildlife, including SARS and Ebola. Canadian demand for wild animals and wildlife products, fuels this cruel trade, which drives pandemic risk.”
A recent report by World Animal Protection shows that 1.8 million wild animals were imported into Canada from 76 countries between 2014 and 2019. Ninety-three per cent of these animals were not subject to any permits or pathogen screening.
“I’m hoping this petition will spur parliamentary action given the strong support among Canadians and MPs across different parties,” says MP Rempel Garner, who has worked across the aisle in the past to achieve legislation to ban the captivity of whales and dolphins, shark finning and bestiality.
The government has 45 days to respond to petitions after they are tabled in Parliament.
Canadian and international scientists, celebrities, animal welfare and wildlife protection groups joined MPs from all parties at a recent virtual parliamentary reception calling for government action.
“As the wellbeing of animals, people and the planet are so deeply interconnected, we are encouraging the government to take a One Health, One Welfare approach to preventing pandemics and other global crises” added Matlow. “Curbing the wildlife trade will also prevent animal suffering, species extinction and biodiversity loss.”
SOURCE World Animal Protection