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MD Press: DNR police seize illegal species in pet raid


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Posted by W von Papinešu on May 05, 2003 at 21:33:02:

DAILY TIMES (Salisbury, Maryland) 03 May 03 DNR police seize illegal species in pet raid (Deborah Gates)
Salisbury: A raid on a Salisbury pet store uncovered illegal and exotic animals, including a timber rattlesnake and several flying squirrels, according to the state Department of Natural Resources Police.
Charles Shrieves, a partner at Pets-4-All off South Salisbury Boulevard, acknowledged Friday that authorities confiscated a timber rattlesnake this week. Authorities also ordered him to remove several gliders from the premise, he said.
Neither the snake nor the squirrels, known as sugar gliders, were for sale, Shrieves said.
But it was unclear which government agency ordered Thursday's search of the pet store at 210 Hazel Ave.
Renee Samuels, a DNR spokeswoman, said the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Wicomico County Health Department also were involved in the five-hour investigation.
"It is against DNR regulations to have exotic species and species that are not native to Maryland," Samuels said.
She said restrictions include the sale, transport or transferring of certain animals or insects.
Timber rattlesnakes are venomous and illegal to possess in Maryland, said Sgt. Bernie Clipper, a DNR police supervisor. He also said DNR police were informed that a timber rattlesnake and American alligator were at the Salisbury store.
Jim Rapp, director of the Salisbury Zoological Park, took custody of the snake, which was supposed to be turned over to the Baltimore Zoo, Clipper said.
"At least one rattlesnake was there that was in violation," he said. "It was seized by us and personnel at the zoo took it away as contraband."
The search did not uncover an American alligator, which are also illegal to possess, Clipper said.
"You can't have an American alligator, although some are permitted, (for) educational purposes," he said.
But, Clipper said, it is legal to sell South American and Caiman alligators.
Shrieves said Friday that he sells caiman alligators. He also said he has Burmese pythons and meat-eating lizards, which are legal.
Several sugar gliders at the store were not for sale, and Shrieves said he was allowed to take them home.
"You can own them but you can't sell them," he said.
Clipper said it remains unclear whether Shrieves would be penalized.
Shrieves said DNR officials ignored his request in January to pick up the timber rattlesnake. The former owner gave him the snake after threatening to release it in the Salisbury area, he said.
"They refused to pick it up," said Shrieves, who kept the snake in a large crate at the store.
He also said the Salisbury Zoo indicated it did not board timber rattlesnakes, which are common to Western Maryland.



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