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Herps In The News Local or national articles where reptiles or amphibians have made it into the news media. Please cite sources.

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Old 04-11-2003, 01:07 PM   #1
Snake confiscated after flight in pocket.

By Will Hoover
Advertiser Staff Writer

Among the millions of "Plant and Animal Declaration Forms" the state of Hawai'i processes every year, here's one that's worthy of being framed and placed on the wall.

A United Airlines flight attendant arriving in Honolulu on a plane from Los Angeles Saturday night was stunned to find one passenger reporting that he had a 20-inch snake in his pants pocket.

The flight attendant alerted ground crews, who notified the state Agriculture Department's Airport Plant Quarantine Office.

Shortly thereafter agricultural inspectors and sheriff's deputies were dispatched to meet the plane.

It turns out the 23-year-old snake handler wasn't kidding.

Inside his zippered pocket officials uncoiled a 20 inch rosy boa a gray-and-rust striped constrictor that is capable of growing to 4 feet in length and usually preys on small mammals and birds.

The animal was confiscated and taken to the quarantine station. The owner swore he didn't realize snakes were illegal in Hawai'i. Since he had reported the creature and was cooperative, authorities had no reason to doubt him, agriculture inspector Malcolm Onaga said yesterday.

Agriculture department spokeswoman Janelle Saneishi said the unidentified man, who plans to live in Hawai'i, had raised the snake from a desert hatchling. But he declined an offer to send the creature back to California, where it likely originated.

Onaga said the snake was doing well and would be turned over to Honolulu Zoo, which would probably soon return it to its desert habitat.

In an effort to keep invasive and alien species out of Hawai'i, an amnesty program allows those with illegal animals to turn them in and avoid prosecution. The maximum penalty for possession of illegal animals is a fine of $200,000, plus three years in prison. Call the pest hot line at 586-7378.

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