DEC finds 157 snakes in Newburgh home

Asian pit vipers

NEWBURGH – To quote Indiana Jones in the movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark” when he climbed into his friend’s small plane and found the man’s large pet snake in the seat, “Jock, I HATE snakes!”

Well, apparently that was not the case with a Newburgh man. State Environmental Conservation Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation Unit officers executed a search warrant at 82 Maple Street and found 157 snakes in the basement of the home.

Officers were alerted to the reptiles by Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx when a man showed up after having been bitten by a venomous Asian pit viper he owned. He received five doses of anti-venom and was released on Monday.

The man did not have a license to possess any of the snakes. Venomous snakes are illegal to possess in New York State without a license and are only licensed for educational or exhibition purposes.

Bronx Zoo staff went to the house to assist environmental conservation officers inventory and remove the snakes from the house. They will be kept at the zoo for the time being.

Snake-infested home at 82 Maple Street  (Photo: Bob McCormick)

A neighbor and friend of the man knew about the reptiles.

“He’s had those snakes here since he moved here. Nobody knew it except me because I’m his friend. The lady next door knew because she would see the crates come in and out when he would take them to shows or get a couple… He’s been selling little babies. He’s been breeding them there,” the friend said.

The man also said the raid on his house was a setup.

“They rolled on him in ’08. He had the federal permits so they said he was grandfathered in. They rolled on him the other day. Now, all of a sudden, he is not grandfathered in. He has sold snakes to the Bronx Zoo in the past. That van has been down here buying snakes.”

Another neighbor said you can’t judge a neighborhood by one resident.

“Down the street everyone is very friendly and the whole block, the people know each other; the neighbors become family,” she said.

Another man was mowing his lawn across the street. He didn’t know about the poisonous reptiles.

“I’m not over there. Hopefully they don’t come over here.”

The owner himself was spotted going back into his house.

“I have a case going and I just can’t say anything,” he said.

The DEC did not release his name nor did it say if he was charged with anything.

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