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Nearly 3 dozen venomous snakes seized from Idaho home


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(Idaho Statesman) – Idaho Fish and Game conservation officers removed nearly three dozen venomous snakes from a Boise home on Saturday, according to a news release from the agency.

Conservation Officer Charlie Justus told the Statesman the agency executed a search warrant after seeing social media posts from the 25-year-old man who owned the reptiles. The man has not been publicly identified, nor have criminal charges been filed against him as of Wednesday afternoon.

“I knew we had cobras in there,” Justus said. “I just didn’t know how many or how bad.”

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Idaho Fish and Game seized this monocled cobra, native to South and Southeast Asia, from a Boise man’s home. | Courtesy Idaho Fish and Game

Officers found 34 venomous snakes of different species, including Great Basin rattlesnakes, which are native to Idaho, and numerous exotic species including an Indian cobra, an Indochina spitting cobra, a flat-nosed pit viper, two Vogel’s pit vipers, two Cape coral cobras, two hog-nosed pit vipers, a green bush viper, a zebra spitting cobra and two monocled cobras. They also found two non-venomous gopher snakes.

Most of the species are illegal to own in Boise, according to city code which bans ownership of nearly all venomous snakes except those native to North America. Elsewhere in Idaho, potential owners must get an import permit and a veterinary certificate of health to own the exotic snakes. The individual whose snakes were seized did not have either, and Justus said Fish and Game likely would have denied the import permit request.

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Idaho Fish and Game seized this Vogel’s pit viper, native to Southeast Asia, from a Boise man’s home. | Courtesy Idaho Fish and Game

“We have not issued import permits for venomous reptiles in at least 20 years,” said Justus, who has been with Fish and Game for 29 years.

Justus said many of the man’s snakes were native Great Basin rattlesnakes, which are legal to own — and capture from the wild — in Idaho. However, a hunting license is required to capture wild snakes, and there is a limit of four specimens per native species, which the Boise man had exceeded.

All of the animals were in good health, Justus said.

Fish and Game officials said the exotic species could have potentially caused major problems if they had escaped. They could pose a threat to native species by competing for resources of transmitting diseases. The venomous snakes could have also easily proven fatal to a human.

“There’s no anti-venom in Idaho if someone were to get bit by these snakes, so that put me on edge,” Justus said.

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Idaho Fish and Game seized this bush viper, native to Central and West Africa, from a Boise man’s home. | Courtesy Idaho Fish and Game