Lawmakers Draft Bill to Crack Poisonous Reptile Possession After 75 Snakes Seized in Raleigh :: WRAL.com
Raleigh, North Carolina – Seventy-five snakes, some venomous, have been seized from a Raleigh home linked to a missing cobra, officials say.
The Raleigh man’s neighbors found a deadly African zebra cobra on their front porch last week. Officials said the cobra had been missing since November.
Christopher Michael Gifford, 21, faces 40 misdemeanor charges relating to possession of poisonous reptiles. The zebra cobra that escaped from its home is deadly and can spit venom up to 9 feet.
Democratic Senators Wiley Nickel and Jay Chaudhuri are preparing a bill that would ban the possession of non-native snakes. Because there were no regulations, Chaudhuri said, there were “incidents that presented a threat to public safety.”
“North Carolina has virtually no regulations regarding the keeping of poisonous snakes and dangerous animals. The lack of adequate regulations has recently put the citizens of Wake County at risk,” said Nickel, D-Wake.
Right now they are trying to see if this bill could be added to the current legislation.
Current owners would be grandfathered, but would need to register their snakes with the state and carry $1 million in liability insurance.
Bills that would have banned inherently dangerous animals, including poisonous reptiles, were blocked in the legislature in 2007. A house bill to restrict the ownership of large dangerous animals was blocked by a 20-member Senate committee. at 19.
The two state senators plan to hold a virtual town hall on July 22 with Raleigh Councilman David Knight to talk about poisonous snake laws.
Knight said Tuesday he was working on a local ordinance to ban the private ownership of poisonous snakes in Raleigh.
The reptile community is concerned about a possible ban
Local experts and snake owners have blasted Gifford and his social media accounts, calling him irresponsible. The reptile community fears that one person will spoil the joy of owning reptiles for everyone.
“It would be a shame to see things being banned more or making things more difficult when there are so many people dedicated to their animals,” said Mike Dean, Repticon Show Manager.
The reptile lover’s event will be held in Raleigh next month, but no poisonous reptiles are in attendance.