Federal Charges for Bringing Garter Snakes to Alaska

While fighting fires in Idaho last summer, Fairbanks resident Matthew Mayo and his pals fooled around with the local snakes and lizards in their downtime, because they didn’t have that kind of wildlife back in Alaska. When it came time to go back home, Mayo took a few garter snakes with him on the plane. That’s where his trouble began: while it’s legal to keep non-native, non-venomous wildlife in Alaska, you need a permit to collect reptiles in Idaho, which means that once Mayo brought the snakes across a state line, he violated the Lacey Act. It didn’t help that a few snakes got loose on the plane. The authorities, including a rather zealous federal prosecutor, got involved and he was facing up to $100,000 in fines and a year in jail, but he’s taking a plea bargain and will instead pay a $500 fine.