TSA SCREENERS FIND LIVE SNAKE IN WOMAN'S LUGGAGE
HONOLULU - Security screeners from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) found a live snake in baggage that was checked in at Honolulu International Airport (HIA) yesterday morning. The baggage belonged to a woman who was headed for Sacramento, CA on a Hawaiian Airlines flight. The three-foot-long, orange-and-white-colored snake has been tentatively identified as a non-venomous albino corn snake. TSA called Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) airport inspectors at about 11 a.m. yesterday. State deputy sheriffs were also called to the scene. The snake is being safeguarded at HDOA's Plant Quarantine Branch.
The 32-year-old woman gave investigators a Waipahu address and said that she packed her own bag, but did not know how the snake got into her luggage. She heard her name being called over the intercom at the gate and she returned to the TSA checkpoint where she was questioned. HDOA inspectors issued a $5,000 citation to the woman for illegal transportation, possession, harboring, in the State of any snake. If the citation is not paid within seven days, the bail forfeiture amount increases to $10,000. The violator may elect to pay the bail forfeiture amount or contest the citation in District Court.
This is the first time that a snake has been found by TSA in Hawaii. TSA advises that live animals should not be transported in baggage. Before transporting legal animals to the mainland, travelers should check with their airline or call the U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors at HIA at 861-8490. To import legal animals to Hawaii, contact HDOA at 973-9560 or go to the department's website at: http://www.hawaiiag.org/hdoa/
Except for the small Hawaiian blind snake, snakes are illegal for individuals to possess in Hawaii. Corn snakes are common in much of the mainland United States and northern Mexico. Corn snakes may grow more than six feet long with a normal diet of small mammals (mice and rats) and poultry (birds and their nestlings). Snakes pose a serious threat to Hawaii's unique ecosystem, especially endangered bird populations.
Individuals with illegal pets are encouraged to turn them in under the department's Amnesty Program. Anyone with information or knowledge of illegal animals in Hawaii is asked to call the department's PEST HOTLINE at 586-PEST(7378).