Prescott Reptile Collector Captures Wild Venomous Reptiles; Authorities Confiscate 36 Snakes and 4 Gila Monsters,

A Prescott man has been charged with a criminal offense for possessing 36 venomous snakes and 4 Gila monsters. The Arizona Game and Fish Department reported that some of these animals were captured from their natural habitat and subsequently bred.

Prescott police alerted officers from Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) via Facebook that they had encountered multiple venomous reptiles in a residence while handling another matter. Upon visiting the home the following day, AZGFD officers discovered that the occupants were not present. A search warrant was obtained and authorities determined that the reptiles had already been removed from the property.

After a couple of days, the inhabitant was discovered and taken into custody on allegations of manipulating evidence and having restricted live animals. Subsequently, the inhabitant disclosed the whereabouts of the reptiles to the officers.

During the search, authorities discovered 36 venomous snakes and four Gila monsters. The individual confessed to unlawfully collecting some of them from their natural habitat and subsequently breeding them. In addition, a handful of the snakes were not native to the area, and the individual also acknowledged purchasing them and transporting them into the state, which is against the law due to the potential harm they can cause to indigenous wildlife.

The AZGFD said in a statement, “This fact was illustrated in this case when the seized snakes started dying,” the AZGFD statement said. “Tests revealed the non-native snakes carried a fungal disease that spread to the native snakes in the collection. As a result of the aggressive disease, all snakes had to be euthanized. The preservation and safeguarding of the state’s wildlife and natural resources is the top priority of our wildlife management team.”

According to AZGFD officers, the individual would have been within the bounds of the law to own certain snakes if they possessed a hunting license. However, since they did not have one, all the reptiles were unlawfully kept.

The individual was charged with a crime and confessed to their wrongdoing. The court imposed a fine of $1,200 and the AZGFD decided to withdraw their hunting, fishing, and trapping privileges for a period of five years.

The individual is responsible for paying the state a civil penalty of $9,684.54 for the loss of the reptiles to the state.