Pit viper bite victim charged with wildlife law violations
Friday, August 27, 2010
Media contact: Gary Morse, 863-227-3830
A Tampa man who authorities say violated numerous
safety regulations for owning captive venomous snakes was bitten by
his pet Gaboon viper. He ended up in the hospital and now faces
On the afternoon of Aug. 24, Lt. Steve DeLacure of
the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)
received a report that a venomous pet snake bit a Tampa man.
DeLacure immediately headed to the victim's residence, where the
bite had taken place. What he found was chilling: an evacuated
house and displaced occupants who had no idea where the
18-inch-long Gaboon viper might be hiding inside.
DeLacure, a veteran FWC investigator who
specializes in captive wildlife, carefully searched the home and
found the pet pit viper in its aquarium, with no top on it.
The snake's owner and bite victim, Jamie DePriest
(DOB, 01/25/79), of 3649 W. Anderson Ave., Tampa, admitted he was
aware of Florida laws regarding captive venomous snakes. He now
faces eight second-degree misdemeanor charges:
- Unlawful possession of a venomous reptile (no permit);
- Failure to meet minimum standard caging requirements (no
- Failure to microchip the snake;
- Failure to post venomous-reptile warning signs;
- Failure to maintain a cage closure identification system
(species identification on cage);
- Failure to maintain a venomous bite protocol;
- Failure to maintain a critical incident plan; and
- Failure to maintain source-of-acquisition records.
Each charge is punishable by up to $500 and/or 60
days in jail.
Once bitten, DePriest drove himself to St. Joseph's
Hospital, where he was admitted and treated for a bite to his left
index finger. DeLacure interviewed DePriest at the hospital and
then filed charges. The bite victim claims to have bought the snake
in New York and brought it to Florida.
Because of concerns expressed by an interested
party over the safety of the children living in the home, the FWC
investigator took his findings to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's
Office, Child Services Investigative Unit, which is conducting an
independent investigation into the matter. Two minor children
occupy the home with DePriest and his girlfriend.
Possession, care and sale of venomous reptiles in
Florida is a highly regulated activity with rigorous standards for
ownership, which address, among other things, caging and
containment requirements, posted signage and approved written
contingency plans in case of emergency. For more information about
Florida's captive wildlife regulations, visit MyFWC.com/Rules.