A new report released by the global charity World Animal Protection explains the extent of Canada's role in sustaining the cruel and dangerous wildlife trade and why it must be curbed – not only to protect animals, but to protect our health and prevent future pandemics such as COVID-19.
"We cannot ignore the fact that the current pandemic and previous major epidemics around the world are fundamentally linked to our poor treatment and exploitation of wild animals," says Melissa Matlow Campaign Director for World Animal Protection Canada. "Our well-being is linked. That is why World Animal Protection is calling on the Canadian government to adopt a One Health One Welfare approach to protect animals, our planet and our health."
COVID-19 is a zoonotic disease, meaning a disease that can be transmitted between animals and humans. The WHO recently sent a team of the world's top virus hunters to Wuhan, China to investigate the exact origins of the virus. While more research is needed, it is widely acknowledged that a wildlife market there played a significant role in the outbreak of COVID-19. It should also be noted that two major reports from UNEP and IPBES cited the wildlife trade as a top driver of pandemic risks.
The report shows that although Canada is only 0.5 per cent of the world's population, it is a major contributor to this trade through importing and exporting a variety of wild animals for exotic pets, entertainment and trophies. Canadian black bears are also hunted for their gallbladders for use in traditional medicine and more than 340,000 wild animals are intensively farmed for fur in Canada.
Also, many Canadians would be surprised to learn that the government doesn't actually know the full number and variety of wild animal species imported into our country each year. The report notes that between 2014 and 2019, at least 1.8 million wild animals were imported into Canada from 76 countries, including known emerging disease hotspots. At our border, there is a complicated web of agencies, each playing an isolated part in regulating different aspects of the import and export of wildlife.
Each of these overburdened agencies have their own data collection systems and requirements. Each agency also has limited jurisdiction, meaning that gaps exist, no one agency is responsible and wild animals imported for purposes other than what they directly oversee are not properly screened for pathogens.
Recent polling conducted by Northstar Research Partners and commissioned by World Animal Protection showed huge support for government action. Some 70 per cent of Canadians support stronger laws to reduce the wild animal trade in Canada and the same percentage support a permanent ban on the commercial trade for wild animals.
World Animal Protection, other leading organizations and more than half a million Canadians are calling on the Canadian government to curb the import and domestic trade in wild animals and products that could contribute to the spread of zoonotic disease in Canada.
The report calls on the Government of Canada to take the following initial steps:
- Establish and fund a comprehensive system for monitoring the import, export and sale of wild animals and their parts within Canada.
- Work with provinces and territories to harmonize and strengthen regulations to drastically reduce captive breeding, transport, and trade (physical and online) in wild animals.
- Strengthen enforcement of both the legal and illegal wildlife trade through improved coordination across agencies and federal/provincial/territorial jurisdictions and increased funding and resources.
Note to editors: Import data in the report was obtained from CBSA and CFIA through Access to Information Requests in 2020. The actual number of wild animals imported is likely higher as some importation numbers were recorded as unknown and only electronic records could be provided due to the pandemic.
About World Animal Protection
From our offices around the world, including China, Australia, Brazil, Kenya and Canada, we move the world to protect animals. Last year, we gave more than 220 million animals better lives through our campaigns that focus on animals in the wild, animals in disasters, animals in communities and animals in farming.
세계 동물보호단체 World Animal Protection에서 발표한 새로운 보고서는 잔인하고 위험한 야생 동물 거래를 유지하는 데 있어 캐나다의 역할 범위와 동물보호 뿐만 아니라 이를 억제해야 하는 이유를 설명한다.
COVID-19는 동물성 질병으로 동물과 인간 사이에 전염될 수 있는 질병을 의미한다. WHO는 최근에 바이러스의 정확한 기원을 조사하기 위해 세계 최고의 팀을 중국 우한으로 보냈다. 더 많은 연구가 필요하지만, 그곳의 야생동물 시장이 COVID-19 발병에 중요한 역할을 했다는 것은 널리 알려져 있다. 또한 UNEP와 IPBES의 두 가지 주요 보고서는 야생동물 거래를 전염병 위험의 주요 원인으로 언급했다.
이 보고서에 따르면 캐나다는 세계 인구의 0.5%에 불과 하지만 이그조틱애니멀, 엔터테인먼트 및 트로피를 위해 다양한 야생동물을 수입 및 수출함으로써 이 무역에 큰 기여를 하고 있다.캐나다 흑곰은 또한 전통 의학에 사용하기 위해 담낭으로 사냥되며 캐나다에서는 340,000마리 이상의 야생동물이 모피를 위해 집중적으로 사육된다.
보고서는 또한 2014년과 2019년 사이에 알려진 질병 핫스팟을 포함하여 76개국에서 최소 180만 마리의 야생동물이 캐나다로 수입되었다고 지적한다.
세계 동물보호, 기타 주요 기관 및 50만 명 이상의 캐나다인이 캐나다에서 동물 질병 확산에 기여할 수 있는 야생동물 및 제품의 수입 및 국내 무역을 억제할 것을 캐나다 정부에 촉구하고 있다.