Man charged in Maidstone with importing exotic snakes

in Essex County/Maidstone/News

MAIDSTONE — A Connecticut man has been charged with a wildlife violation after a dozen wild eastern hognose snakes were found in his possession at his property in Maidstone.

David Buyak, 42, was charged with illegally importing wildlife and faces fines up to $722.

Eastern hognose snakes are found in the wild in Connecticut, but are not native to Vermont.

Buyak claimed he captured an adult male and female snake in the wild in Connecticut and bred them. The 12 snakes in his possession are allegedly the offspring of these two snakes.

Though harmless, the snake can be intimidating to people as they are able to flatten their head and neck like a cobra and will hiss when threatened.

Wardens were first alerted to the presence of the snakes when local officials confronted Buyak for constructing what they believed was an unpermitted mound septic system. The mound was not a septic system, but was instead a snake hibernaculum that Buyak had allegedly constructed for the hognose snakes.

“Vermont’s wildlife importation laws are in place to protect our local ecosystems and our people,” said Sgt. Chad Barrett, Vermont exotic species specialist. “Exotic species can sometimes quickly establish themselves in a new area, which can devastate local plants and animals that are not used to their presence and are often unable to compete with them. Additionally, if someone were to import a dangerous species, that animal could potentially harm someone if it got loose.”

Eastern hognose snakes are not harmful to people, although they do possess rear fangs and a mild venom that is toxic to amphibians. They use their upturned snout to root around for toads on the forest floor.

Barrett also cited the movement of exotic species as a source of disease transmission among wildlife populations. Snakes in some parts of New England have been suffering from a newly discovered condition called snake fungal disease, which can infect multiple snake species.

The snakes were seized and have been turned over to Rainforest Reptiles in Massachusetts for care.

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