WINNIPEG—Animal protection groups are calling on the Manitoba government to abandon proposed changes to the Environment Act that would loosen restrictions on non-essential, or “cosmetic”, use of toxic pesticides. In a letter, national animal law organization Animal Justice, the Winnipeg Humane Society, and a coalition of local and national animal protection and rescue groups, sanctuaries, and rehabilitation organizations describe Bill 22 as dangerous and regressive, and sound the alarm over risks of illness and death to wild and domesticated animals throughout Manitoba.
While governments and citizens across Canada and around the world are working to reduce the use of harmful pesticides, Manitoba is proposing to allow more pesticides to be used for cosmetic purposes, despite growing scientific evidence that many of these pesticides pose significant risks to wild and companion animals, as well as to human health and the environment. Rather than allowing for the use of more toxic pesticides, the groups say Manitoba should strengthen its existing pesticide restrictions.
“Many pesticides are toxic to plants and animals by design,” said Kaitlyn Mitchell, Winnipeg-based staff lawyer with Animal Justice. “In addition to contributing to a range of harmful environmental effects, such as biodiversity loss and dramatic declines in insect populations, they can cause serious illness and even death in wild and domesticated animals, from squirrels and sparrows to cats and dogs. Increasing the non-essential use of pesticides in Manitoba would be wildly irresponsible—dandelions aren’t dangerous, toxic pesticides are.”
Scientific evidence shows that pesticides can harm and even kill both wild and domesticated animals, causing cancer, endocrine disruption, birth defects, and other adverse health outcomes. Pesticides can harm animals throughout the ecosystem, including songbirds, birds of prey, fish, and numerous endangered species, as well as companion animals such as cats and dogs.
“The use of these pesticides needs to be reduced, not increased,” said Brittany Semeniuk, animal welfare specialist with the Winnipeg Humane Society. “Like children, animals are particularly at risk from exposure to pesticides used on grass and other plants in our community, given their small size and tendency to be close to the ground. Animals may also chew, eat, or roll on grass and plants sprayed with pesticides. Allowing more harmful pesticides to be used in Manitoba would put animals throughout the province at risk.”
In addition to Animal Justice and the Winnipeg Humane Society, the letter is supported by The Little Red Barn Micro Sanctuary, World Animal Protection, Wildlife Haven Rehabilitation Centre, Free From Farm Sanctuary, Save A Dog Network Canada, Humane Society International/Canada, The Fur-Bearers, D’Arcy’s Animal Rescue Centre, and Manitoba Animal Save.