Academic Article Explores Implications of Canada’s Wildlife Trade for Zoonotic Disease Risk

Michèle Hamers et al, “An analysis of Canada's declared live wildlife imports and implications for zoonotic disease risk” (2023) 8 FACETS 1.

Abstract: In Canada, there have been calls for increased research into and surveillance of wildlife trade and associated zoonotic disease risks. We provide the first comprehensive analysis of Canadian live wildlife imports over a seven-year period (2014–2020), based on data from federal government databases obtained via Access to Information requests. A total of 1 820 313 individual animals (including wild-caught and captive-bred animals but excluding fish, invertebrates, Columbiformes (pigeons), and Galliformes (game birds)), from 1028 documented import records, were imported into Canada during 2014–2020. Birds were the most imported taxonomic class (fifty-one percent), followed by reptiles (twenty-eight percent), amphibians (nineteen percent), and mammals (two percent). In total, twenty-two taxonomic orders from seventy-nine countries were recorded as imported. Approximately half of the animals (forty-nine percent) were imported for the exotic pet market. Based on existing literature and a review of the Canadian regulatory apparatus, we gesture to these importations' potential implications for zoonotic disease risk and discuss potential biosecurity challenges at the Canadian border. Finally, we identify data gaps that prevent an extensive assessment of the zoonotic disease risk of live wildlife imports. We recommend data collection for all wildlife importation and improved coordination between agencies to accurately assess zoonotic disease risk.