Teachers urged not to free classroom pets into the wild

Associated Press

Lansing — As the school year winds down, officials are urging teachers not to dispose of classroom pets and plants by releasing them into the wild.

Some animals and plants commonly kept in classrooms are considered invasive species in Michigan.

The Department of Natural Resources says invasions of rusty crayfish and Eurasian watermilfoil may have resulted from aquarium owners releasing them into lakes or streams.

That could happen with other exotic species that make popular science exhibits, such as red swamp crayfish, hydrilla and giant African snails. They’re among 55 invasive species listed as prohibited or restricted in Michigan.

Instead of releasing live animals, the DNR recommends giving them to a hobbyist, environmental learning center, aquarium or zoo. Plants should be sealed in plastic bags and put in the trash, not composted.