By ‘A’ali’i Dukelow
HONOLULU (KITV) — After a snake was turned into the Honolulu Zoo Thursday, Hawaii officials are reminding the public to report or surrender illegal animals.
Under the state’s amnesty program, anyone who turns in any prohibited creature can choose to remain anonymous and be exempt from any penalty, as long as the animal is surrendered before the state launches an investigation.
The Hawaii Department of Agriculture is urging anyone who owns an unlawful animal as a pet to relinquish them, not release them into the wild.
“They’re (owners) not fully prepared to actually manage them over the long term, ‘Oh it’s really cute when it’s a baby,’ and then it turns into an adult and you’re just like, ‘What am I supposed to do with this?,'” said Jonathan Ho, inspection and compliance section chief for the department’s plant quarantine branch.
Not only do snakes pose a threat to humans and pets, they also jeopardize native species here that have not evolved to combat such predators.
“Those animals, you know, a lot of them are already threatened or endangered and having another added pressure could be the proverbial nail the coffin for those animals and tip them into extinction and obviously, we don’t want that to occur,” Ho added.
According to Ho, the department received about three snakes in 2022.
“We really encourage the public to be the state’s eyes and ears with regards to these types of animals. We cannot be everywhere at all times,” Ho urged.
To report illegal animals, call 808-643-7378.
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