FREDERICTON, N.B. – On the one year anniversary of the shocking deaths of two young boys in Campbellton, N.B., the executive director of the New Brunswick SPCA said he hopes a task force will spark some changes when it comes to keeping exotic animals as pets in the province.
Hilary Howe was asked last month to join the task force meant to review the province’s exotic pet rules and regulations.
The task force was spurred after an African Rock Python claimed the lives of Noah and Connor Barthe; the brothers were killed when a python escaped its enclosure and asphyxiated the boys while they slept.
“The tragedy just struck home big time,” Howes said. “It was just such a surprise that anything like that could happen in New Brunswick.”
The task force’s mandate will be to review existing legislation in the province, including the Fish and Wildlife Act, to see if amendments are needed.
Howe said he’s looking to make it safer for people to be in a home where an exotic animal is being kept.
“I actually would like to see them all excluded from New Brunswick. There’s really no reason to own venomous snakes and lizards, scorpions and spiders,” he said. “There’s always too great a risk that these things can get out and hurt somebody.”
Liberal MLA Donald Arseneault says he would like to see an external review of the Department of Natural Resources and of everyone involved in the case.
“There’s no doubt in this situation, the owner had a reptile that was not allowed in New Brunswick, and he had it for quite some time,” Areseault said in a telephone interview with Global News. “So something, somewhere has faltered.”
“We owe it to Noah and Connor to make sure it never happens again.”
Since 1992, African rock pythons have been banned in New Brunswick unless a permit is obtained. Only accredited zoos can obtain such a permit.
A total of 23 reptiles banned in New Brunswick were seized from the pet shop after the boys’ deaths. Four American alligators that were also taken from the store were euthanized.
The task force is scheduled to meet for the first time August 21. The investigation into the Campbellton case is now in the hands of the Crown Prosecutor in Edmundston, N.B.