Mobile County Man Arrested for Illegal Possession of Wildlife

Contact: Allan Andress

Michael Paul Solomon, 32, was arrested by Conservation Enforcement Officers at his residence in Mobile County for illegally possessing non-indigenous venomous reptiles and American alligators. The officers obtained a search warrant for the residence after learning Solomon was keeping a monocled cobra, two rhinoceros vipers, two tentacle water snakes and two alligators in his single-wide mobile home.

Solomon told the officers he purchased all of the reptiles on the Internet from companies in other states. Agents with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assisted with the execution of the search warrant and subsequent arrest because it could also be a violation of the Federal Lacey Act for obtaining the illegal wildlife in interstate commerce. It is unlawful for any person to possess, sell, offer for sale, import, or release any non-indigenous venomous reptile in or into the State of Alabama without a permit.

The monocled cobra is native to Asia. Its venom is powerful and affects the victim’s organs and muscles. If bitten, death is almost instantaneous. The rhinoceros viper is considered one of the most dangerous snakes of Africa. Though generally slow moving, when it strikes for a kill it can be extremely quick. The tentacle water snake originated in Central and Southern Thailand. This snake contains very mild poison and is not considered dangerous.

“The illegal commercialization of wildlife and the introduction of injurious species are two of the greatest threats to our natural resources, and in this case public safety,” said Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Enforcement Chief Allan Andress.

In response to growing public concerns about the importation and possession of non-native venomous reptiles by individuals, Alabama prohibited this activity in 2001. At that time, persons in possession of non-native venomous reptiles were given the opportunity to apply for a permit or dispose of them. No new permits are being issued.