California Wildlife Officials Uncover Illegal Rattlesnake Trafficking Operation

Photo: CDFW

In case you’re wondering – yes, it’s very illegal to breed and traffic rattlesnakes. That’s why wildlife officials keep a close ear to the ground in order to uncover any such operations in California.

Recently, a wildlife officer from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife was monitoring social media as part of modern-day wildlife law enforcement. That officer came across an individual who claimed he was breeding and selling Western diamondback rattlesnakes, one of California’s native rattlesnakes, at an upcoming reptile exposition. About the same time, a concerned citizen who saw the same social media post provided a tip to the CDFW CalTIP line.

The wildlife officer attended the exposition, located the individual and determined he was in fact, trafficking in rattlesnakes. The officer determined that the suspect had been breeding and selling a large number of native rattlesnakes for approximately 10 years. He also discovered the suspect was housing several non-native rattlesnakes that are restricted in California without the proper permits for the snakes.

Photo: CDFW

The officer seized the rattlesnakes that were displayed for sale, then with the assistance of several other local wildlife officers, inspected the facility where the suspect was housing the rest of his rattlesnakes for his breeding operation. Wildlife officers identified and seized 59 rattlesnakes – 40 Western diamondback, 12 speckled and seven non-native prairie rattlesnakes.

Depending on the decision by the court, the rattlesnakes seized by the department will potentially be utilized for scientific study or venom extraction to produce antivenom.

Unlawful selling of any wildlife amounts to wildlife trafficking, a very high law enforcement priority for wildlife officers. If you witness an incident or any violation of fish and wildlife laws, or if you have information about such a violation, please call CDFW’s CalTIP number, (888) 334-2258, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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