Arizonan Fined For Taking Snakes and Gila Monsters From the Wild

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Game wardens confiscated dozens of venomous snakes from an individual in Arizona recently, along with four threatened lizards known as gila monsters. The person collected many of the reptiles from the wild, the Arizona Game & Fish Department said in a press release shared on Facebook, and apparently bred some of the snakes inside a residence in Prescott, Arizona.

Prescott police officers found the cache of prohibited reptiles while responding to an unrelated incident at the home. “The individual admitted to illegally collecting snakes from the wild,” the release states, “breeding some snakes, and purchasing some non-native ones.”

The offender wasn’t home the following day when game wardens showed up to investigate, but the agents entered anyway after obtaining a search warrant, the AZGFD said. By then, the snakes and the gila monsters had been removed from the residence.

A few days later, the cops caught up with the accused person, who isn’t identified by name or gender in the press release. The person were arrested “for tampering with evidence and possession of restricted live wildlife” and hit with an initial $1,200 fine. The case then went before the Arizona Game and Fish Commission and the reptile collector was issued an additional $9,684.54 in civil penalties and a five-year ban from hunting, fishing, and trapping in the Grand Canyon State. All told, the person had 36 venomous snakes and four gila monster lizards in their possession.

All of the snakes had to be euthanized after the native serpents contracted an aggressive fungal disease from the illegally-imported snakes in the individuals collection, the state game agency reported. The department did not say wether the gila monsters contracted the fungal disease as well.

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“This investigation involves legal reptiles to possess with a hunting license, reptiles that are protected, and reptiles that were illegal to import into the state,” AZGFD said. “This individual didn’t possess a valid hunting license, so none of the reptiles were legal to possess. Gila monsters are protected in Arizona and are illegal to take from the wild.”

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