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Hilo, Kona reptiles among illegal animals turned in

MEDIA RELEASE

Twelve illegal animals have been turned in to the state Department of Agriculture between June 29 and July 13.

One snake was caught in the wild on Oahu; while three other snakes, two from Hilo and one from Oahu, were turned in under the State’s Amnesty law.

In addition, eight illegal lizards were turned in, including three bearded dragons (two from Kona and one from Oahu), one blue-tongued skink, one tegu lizard, one iguana and two leopard geckos (all from Oahu).

Some of the incidents were prompted by the Honolulu Police Department’s Crimestoppers program which offers rewards for tips on illegal animals.

Snakes and large lizards have no natural predators in Hawaii and pose a serious threat to Hawaii’s environment because they compete with native animal populations for food and habitat. Many species also prey on birds and their eggs, increasing the threat to our endangered native birds. Large snakes may also kill pets and even humans.

Individuals who have illegal animals are encouraged to turn them in under the state’s amnesty program, which provides immunity from prosecution. Illegal animals may be turned in to any HDOA Office, Honolulu Zoo, Panaewa Zoo in Hilo or any Humane Society – no questions asked and no fines assessed.

Animals turned in under amnesty will not be euthanized and will be sent to a reptile facility on the mainland.

The maximum penalty under state law for possessing and/or transporting illegal animals is a class C felony, $200,000 fine and up to three years in prison.

Anyone with information on illegal animals should call the PEST HOTLINE at 643-PEST (7378) or CrimeStoppers at 961-8300 or 329-8181.

UPDATED, 10 p.m. Sunday, July 24

This following comment was received by Hawaii 24/7 from Matt Ellerbeck, self-proclaimed ‘snake man’ from Canada:

Snakes Need to Be Banned For Their Own Safety

News of a recent seizure of illegal reptiles has certainly made headlines. It may also be a bit of relief for those who are fearful of snakes and reptiles.

Unfortunately, with all the sensationalism surrounding this incident it may not of occurred to people that the inclusion of snakes in the pet trade is a very serious case of animal cruelty.

This trade is extremely abusive and exploitive. It is well documented that 90 percent of all pet snakes die prematurely due to neglect and improper care.

The majority of snake keepers are individuals who buy animals on a whim and obtain them for novelty and shock value. Incidents of snakes escaping and turning up in bizarre places are also becoming more and more common.

Due to such problems the exotic pet trade should never be supported – for the sake of both snakes and humans.

Matt Ellerbeck – The Snake Man
Snake Advocate & Conservationist
www.the-snake-man.com

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