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TWRA Declares "Operation Striking Distance" a Success

June 28, 2007

TWRA Photo
Nashville, Tennessee - The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) announced today that it has successfully completed a state-wide undercover investigative operation targeting individuals who were trafficking in venomous reptiles, resulting in arrests and animal confiscations across the state.

Since its commencement in September of 2006, “Operation Striking Distance” has resulted in seven persons being arrested or cited within Tennessee, with six more persons to be charged. TWRA officers and investigators have seized more than 100 venomous snakes, alligators, and turtles.

“I am greatly pleased with the work of our investigators and officers,” said TWRA Chief of Enforcement Sonny Richardson. “This was a complex investigation, involving the cooperation of many people in four different areas that subsequently resulted in potentially hazardous animals being prevented from causing harm to the public.”

The deadly snakes and other animals were seized in seven counties across the state ranging from Memphis to Johnson City. According to investigators, there were children present in some of the homes where venomous snakes were found. Snakes that were seized included an assortment of non-native species such as cobras and exotic vipers as well as various types of rattlesnakes and native poisonous snakes.

While some area hospitals carry antivenom for treating bites from native snake species, there are only a handful of facilities in the entire southeast region that are equipped to handle an emergency involving an exotic snake such as a gaboon viper or monocled cobra.

Tennessee law prohibits the sale, importation and ownership of venomous snakes and alligators. Also prohibited is the sale and possession of any type of turtle as a pet. If you know of someone who owns animals that fall into these categories, you are encouraged to contact the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency at (615)781-6580 to report the individual. Please consult this Web site for more information regarding the Agency and its authority.


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