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CO Press: Snake owner's tale filled with twists


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Posted by W von Papinešu on December 12, 2002 at 18:22:00:

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS (Denver, Colorado) 12 December 02 Snake owner's tale filled with twists - Woman was busted, still gets calls for help (Deborah Frazier)

A Colorado Springs woman ordered to do 500 hours of community service for illegal possession of 25 deadly snakes said that officials still call her to rescue venomous reptiles.

Jennifer Ransom, 33, pleaded guilty Wednesday to misdemeanor charges of owning green mambas, king cobras, a gaboon viper and several species of rattlesnakes.

"She did not have a license to own them and there was some concern that the cages were not secure," said Michael Seraphin of the Colorado Division of Wildlife. "None of them had bitten her. She probably handled them humanely."

Ransom confined the most dangerous snakes to containers in two closed rooms of her home.

Ransom, an experienced snake handler who has worked in zoos, has a different story. Since moving to Colorado Springs in 1995, she has asked the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region and the Division of Wildlife if she needed a license and was told no, she said.

And, Ransom said both agencies give out her phone number, or that of her rescue partner Mike Chadwell, when a poisonous reptile needed to be captured and confined during an arrest or house search.

"We did it for free. We didn't have to advertise because through the Division of Wildlife and the Humane Society, we got more calls than we could handle," said Ransom.

"Even after the bust, they've been giving out our number," said Ransom. "We get several calls a day and we've been taping them and asking where they got our number."

Ransom's comments were made after office hours and DOW and Humane Society officials couldn't be reached for comment.

Colorado law prohibits the possession of poisonous snakes, except by zoos and licensed facilities. Since the raid, Ransom has sold some of the snakes and signed over the rest to three-year breeding leases. All the snakes have left the state.

Chadwell wasn't charged.

"Experts consider mambas among the deadliest snakes in the world," said Steve Cooley, district wildlife manager. "They are big, extremely fast and just two drops of venom can kill an adult within minutes.

"If any of the snakes had escaped in a residential neighborhood, the results could have been disastrous," Cooley said.

Ransom, who said she's worked at zoos for 13 years and never been bitten, said the license issue surfaced last year when the local Humane Society called her to capture and keep a gaboon mamba. The new director asked for her license.

Ransom explained she'd been told she didn't need one, but filed the papers and fees to get a permit. A few months later, she was told she also needed a license from the Division of Wildlife. She was filling out that paperwork when officers raided her home in August 2001.




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