For Immediate Release: November 3, 2006 NR06-12
ILLEGAL ANIMALS TURNED IN TO HILO AGRICULTURE OFFICE
HONOLULU – A box containing several illegal animals was delivered anonymously to the Hilo Office of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture yesterday morning. The box contained a 22-inch albino corn snake, a bearded dragon lizard, a 19-inch iguana and two emperor scorpions – all of which are illegal to transport and possess in Hawaii.
Under the state’s amnesty program, anyone who voluntarily turns in illegal animals is granted immunity from prosecution – no questions asked. Illegal animals may be turned in to any HDOA office, municipal zoo or Humane Society.
“Those who smuggle and possess illegal animals in Hawaii pose a real threat to our state,” said Sandra Lee Kunimoto, chairperson for the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “We request and appreciate every responsible citizen’s help in stopping those who are bringing these illegal animals into our community. Should these animals become established in the wild, the financial and ecological toll will be shouldered by everyone in the state.”
Anyone with information on illegal animals should call the state’s toll-free PEST HOTLINE at 643-PEST (7378). Persons possessing illegal animals may be charged with a class C felony and subject to fines up to $200,000 and three years in prison.
Many illegal animals, such as snakes and large lizards, have no natural predators in Hawaii and pose a serious threat to Hawaii’s environment. Many species also prey on birds and their eggs, increasing the threat to endangered native birds. Large snakes can also be a danger to the public and small pets.