City, State, and Federal Police Detain Two Enormous Snakes
Two longtime residents of the Battery have been evicted. On August 19, police from the State’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) were summoned to the park at Manhattan’s southern tip by officers of the City’s Parks Enforcement Patrol (PEP), in response to complaints about two men with large snakes wrapped around their shoulders. The men (whose names have not been released) were offering tourists the opportunity to have their photographs taken, in exchange for a fee, with the snakes coiled around their upper bodies. The men have set up their photographs-with-a-python business in Battery Park for several years.
The snakes turned out to be a 12-foot reticulated python and a six-foot Burmese python. The former is the world’s longest species of snake, while the latter is the second-heaviest known species. While neither breed is venomous, both are considered dangerous, primarily because they are enormously powerful constrictors. Reticulated pythons have been known to kill adult humans, and (in rare cases) eat them. Both species also have sharp teeth that can cause severe lacerations and impart potentially life-threatening infections.
Both reticulated pythons and Burmese pythons are illegal in New York without a permit from the DEC. Both species are also subject to additional City regulations.
With assistance from the City’s PEP officers, as well as federal parks police officers called to the scene, a trio of State DEC police—Lieutenant Waldemar Auguscinski, Officer Paul Pansini, and Officer Tyler Abelson— detained the two men and determined that they did not have the legally required permits. The officers removed the snakes from the park as a crowd watched, using techniques learned recently during advanced training on the capture, handling, and transportation of dangerous reptiles.
The two men were charged with “possession of animals dangerous to health or welfare without a valid DEC permit.” They were issued summonses (which entail possible penalties of $250 and up to 15 days of imprisonment) and released.
The DEC police officers on the scene were members of that agency’s Wildlife Response Team. According to a DEC spokesman, the snakes were taken to a licensed reptile refuge. The snakes will not be euthanized, the same source says, adding, however, that, “they will not be returned to their former owners.”