by Vikki Hopes, Black Press
A local reptile expert is angry that almost 50 snakes were euthanized after their owner was evicted from a Mission rental home on Thursday.
Mike Hopcraft, who runs the Reptile Guy Rescue and Education Centre in Abbotsford, said conservation officers should have made more of an effort to find a facility in North America that could take the reticulated pythons.
His site is not currently licensed to accept the prohibited species – a situation he hopes to change in the future – but he said there was no reason to euthanize them.
"To me, this was an execution … You're taking healthy animals that haven't hurt anybody, and you're killing them," Hopcraft said.
Chris Doyle, an inspector with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service, said the agency was called to the small one-storey home on Van Velzen Avenue in Mission after the renter was evicted and dozens of snakes were found in the residence.
Conservation officers discovered 46 reticulated pythons, which are prohibited under the Controlled Alien Species Regulation of the Wildlife Act, as well as about 50 other snakes, including boas and gopher and king snakes.
Doyle said all the snakes were in enclosures and none appeared tov be unhealthy or mistreated.
He said the pythons – the longest of which was 14 feet – were euthanized by a veterinarian because there was nowhere for them to go and they posed "a public safety risk."
Hopcraft said he is frustrated by that comment, adding that because of one recent prominent case in which a python killed two kids in New Brunswick, people think "snakes are killers."
"Horses kill more people," he said.
The remaining snakes, which were not prohibited, have been moved to a facility, Doyle said.
He said the Conservation Officer Service is continuing its investigation, including how the man obtained the pythons. The owner could face potential charges, such as possession, breeding and transportation of a prohibited species.
Meanwhile, Hopcraft is working toward obtaining a rescue permit for his facility. He is critical of the government for introducing the Controlled Alien Species Regulation four years ago to prohibit ownership of certain animals with no plan of where to put them when they are confiscated.