Update: Snake spotted near construction zone in Pukalani is captured and euthanized
May 16, 2023, 8:50 AM HST
* Updated May 16, 2:24 PM
A live snake was captured in Pukalani on Maui Monday afternoon on the side of the road near the Pukalani Golf Club, officials have confirmed.
The Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture reports that a resident reported that he saw children playing with a snake at about 3 p.m. yesterday. Another resident reported seeing the snake just off the sidewalk in a construction zone along Liholani Street at around 3:50 p.m.
Agricultural inspectors from the Maui Plant Quarantine Branch were immediately dispatched and found the snake had been contained in a plastic garbage bin. The snake measured 3½ feet long and has been tentatively identified as a non-venomous female gopher snake.
Snakes are illegal in Hawaiʻi. Gopher snakes are found in North America and can grow up to about seven feet. Its diet consists of small rodents, young rabbits, lizards, birds and their eggs. Prey is killed by constriction and suffocation.
Maui Police Department officers on the scene and assisted inspectors in securing the snake. Inspectors surveyed the immediate area and no other evidence of snakes was found.
The HDOA reports the snake was transported to the Plant Quarantine Office and was humanely euthanized.
A Maui resident called police after spotting a snake on the side of the road in Pukalani on Monday afternoon. The incident was reported at around 3:50 p.m. just off the sidewalk in a construction zone along Liholani Street.
Maui Now reached out to the state Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services branch and is awaiting response for information on the type of snake, its size, if it is venomous, if authorities captured the animal alive, and next steps.
In Hawaiʻi, snakes are illegal to possess, have no natural predators, and pose a serious threat to Hawaiʻi’s unique ecosystem as they compete with native animal populations for food and habitat.
When incidents like this occur, the HDOA reminds the public that those with illegal animals may turn them in under the State’s Amnesty Program to any HDOA office, Honolulu Zoo, Panaewa Zoo on Hawaiʻi Island or any Humane Society – no questions asked and no fines assessed.
Anyone with information about illegal animals should call the statewide toll-free PEST HOTLINE at 643-PEST (7378).
The maximum penalty under state law for possession and/or transporting illegal animals is a class C felony, $200,000 fine and up to three years in prison, according to the HDOA. Sightings or captures of illegal animals or invasive species should also be reported to the hotline.
*This story will be updated with more information as it becomes available.