A Bay Shore man has admitted trying to sell nearly two dozen pythons over the Internet after he was caught this summer by undercover investigators during a “buy and bust” operation in Oakdale.
Arthur Davidson pleaded guilty at Suffolk County court Sept. 5 to a misdemeanor charge of selling wild animals as pet. A felony charge of possession and sale of fish and wildlife was dropped. He was fined $5,000.
He was arrested following a joint investigation by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation officers and special agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service after they spotted an advertisement for Burmese Pythons on Craigslist, officials said.
Authorities tried for several days to gain Davidson’s trust after they saw the ad. Once they were successful, investigators set up a July 13 meeting in an Oakdale parking lot, where a DEC officer posed as a buyer and negotiated to purchase 23 juvenile pythons for $2,400.
After the deal was completed, investigators also found a 14-foot-long, 100-pound breeder female Burmese Python and an additional five juvenile pythons in a bag in his car, according to the DEC. The snakes have since been donated to educational and research institutions.
“All too often individuals who traffic in these types of animals find that they can no longer care for them and release them into the wild,” DEC Regional Director Peter A. Scully said in a statement. “Once there they become dangerous predators that have the potential to kill humans. This operation prevented this from happening.”
Burmese Pythons are one of the six largest species of snakes in the world. They were imported into the United States from Southeast Asia as part of the pet trade.
In the wild, Burmese Pythons can grow as long as 22 feet and weigh up to 200 pounds. They are hunted for their skins and meat, leading to a huge drop in their numbers in the wild.
They are banned for interstate transport by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.