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Maryland Natural Resources Police Seize Seven Poisonous Snakes
Silver Spring — Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) officers executed a search and seizure warrant last night at a residence in Silver Spring to seize seven poisonous snakes that were held captive illegally.
The seven snakes, two “Gaboon” Vipers, two Florida Cottonmouth snakes, one Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, one Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake and one Copperhead snake were removed from the residence by herpetologists from the Catoctin Mt. Zoo. The snakes were then transported to the zoo where they will be kept under expert care until the conclusion of the case. NRP officers seized all written records pertaining to the sale, possession and maintenance of the snakes.
The Gaboon Viper lives on the rain forest floor in the equatorial belt of Tropical Africa. They are poisonous and deadly and they have two large venom glands. The venom is a powerful haemotoxin (destroys blood cells and vessels) and its venomous bite can kill a full grown human within 15 minutes or quicker.
The owner of the snakes, Matthew W. Johnston Sr., 33, was charged with five counts of importing into the state poisonous snakes in the family group “viperidae” and six counts under the Montgomery County Code, possession of any animal that poses a physical threat to humans if the animal bite is poisonous. A preliminary hearing is set for April 4, in Montgomery County.
NRP reminds all Maryland citizens that it is illegal to possess, breed and commercially trade certain reptiles and amphibians allowed by Maryland law without a permit issued by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
The Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) is an enforcement arm of the Department of Natural Resources. With an authorized strength of 285 officers and a dedicated staff of civilian and volunteer personnel, the Natural Resources Police provide a variety of services in addition to conservation and boating law enforcement duties throughout the State of Maryland. These services include homeland security, search and rescue, emergency medical services, education, information and communications services on a round the clock basis. NRP is the only police force aside from the Maryland State Police that has statewide jurisdiction.
March 14, 2005
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 446,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov