Eating Protected Rattlesnake for Dinner Is Criminal

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on November 16, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Some people will pay a lot to eat an exotic food item. But the teenagers who pled guilty this week in Maryland to grilling a protected rattlesnake and eating it for dinner were not gourmets, and they were probably not prepared for the price they would pay.

Four young men who went camping in the Green Ridge State Forest this past summer pled guilty in Cumberland, Maryland District Court to possessing or destroying protected rattlesnake, according to the Associated Press. They took probation pleas and agreed to each pay a fine of $500 ($300 suspended); their records will be expunged if they successfully complete probation.

Federal Hunting and Fishing Crimes

Hunting and fishing are regulated activities and people do get in serious trouble for violating laws that control the way we interact with animals. There are state and local laws that address animal crimes, as well as federal offenses.

This year, a Florida social worker pled guilty to the barter and sale of at least 59 illegal snakes, Pacific Standard magazine reports. In August, a jury in federal court convicted a New Jersey man of trafficking in illegal paddlefish and paddlefish caviar, a crime discovered in a lengthy undercover investigation of the paddlefish black market.

Earlier in the summer, Lou's Fish Market in New York got busted for falsifying fishing reports in order to sell hundreds of thousands of pounds of federally controlled fluke and bass in the Bronx. Those are just a few of the criminal cases brought by the Department of Justice's Environmental Crimes Section.

The Snake Eaters

Maryland Natural Resources Police say the men were camping in the Green Ridge State Forest in August when they killed the snake with a BB gun and grilled it. One of the young men who ate protected rattlesnake in Maryland is still waiting for his day in court. Jared Holt, 19, did not plead guilty and is scheduled for trial next month.

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