2015-12-04 / Community

Woman bitter about snakes being confiscated, euthanized

By Molly Lovell-Keely
Managing Editor


Karrie Herring, her husband and their repatiles are staying in Scarborough while they find a more permanant place to stay. They left their Biddeford apartment after someone tipped off the state that they were keeping an illegal snake. (Molly Lovell-Keely photo) Karrie Herring, her husband and their repatiles are staying in Scarborough while they find a more permanant place to stay. They left their Biddeford apartment after someone tipped off the state that they were keeping an illegal snake. (Molly Lovell-Keely photo) BIDDEFORD – A former Biddeford resident said the state had no justification in killing snakes it seized from her 133 Foss St. apartment in August and now wants to educate the public about the often misunderstood reptiles.

Though staff from the Maine Warden Service took four snakes – a Columbian boa named Zeus, a Hot Island boa named DiNozzo, a silver Trans-Pecos rat snake and an albino Burmese python named Adidas – Karrie Herring is only charged with one count of importing or receiving wildlife without a permit.

The Burmese python, who was 13, is not allowed in Maine and Herring said she bought the snake through Craigslist from a person in Sanford.


Adidas, a Burmese python, was killed by the Maine Warden Service after four staff showed up at a Biddeford apartment to confiscate it and three other snakes. (Courtesy photo) Adidas, a Burmese python, was killed by the Maine Warden Service after four staff showed up at a Biddeford apartment to confiscate it and three other snakes. (Courtesy photo) “We went to go look at her and she wasn’t in healthy condition,” Herring said, adding that Adidas had a respiratory infection and mites.

Herring, 25, said she was trying to work with the state to obtain a permit for Adidas, but that officials made it difficult. The Maine Warden Service did not respond to a request for comment from the Courier.

“I was looking into how to obtain a permit without specifically saying I had the snake. I knew they’d come in and kill it,” she said.

“She loved me more,” Herring said of Adidas. “If you opened her cage door, she would wrap around me like a hug.”

Herring and her husband, David Herring, have a number of reptiles, including a tegu that she said state officials also tried to illegally seize.

“(Inland Fisheries and Wildlife) says they’re here to protect animals, but they’re killing them,” Herring said, adding that the snakes could have been relocated to a sanctuary if they weren’t going to be returned.

Herring, who is staying in Scarborough, said the euthanization of snakes generally includes freezing them, adding that when a department official called to tell her the snakes were dead, she told him to “Go to hell.”

When Herring got her cages back – empty – she cried.

When state officials showed up at her door to retrieve the snakes, Herring said she became emotional.

“He said, ‘If you don’t let us in, you’ll be arrested,’ ” Herring said, adding that she wished she’d asked for a search warrant.

Herring was told the snakes were evaluated by a biologist and veterinarian, but if that were the case, such an expert would have known that a Burmese python wouldn’t be able to withstand the Maine cold and reproduce, which she suspects officials feared, she said.

Herring pleaded not guilty last month to importing or receiving wildlife without a permit and said she could have paid a $100 fine to “make it all go away,” but she refused. She’s scheduled to appear in Biddeford District Court Jan. 19. If the case isn’t settled, jury selection for a trial in York County Superior Court is scheduled to begin in February.

Herring has sought legal help from the United States Association of Reptile Keepers about her case and also wants to educate the public about snakes.

Herring said many snakes lose their sight as they age and learn to detect vibrations in its keeper’s voice. She also said they’re fairly easy to care for; a healthy snake will eat once a week.

“They’re loving and loyal, and they don’t make a big mess,” she said. “Snakes are not mean or evil. They just want to be loved like anything else – or left alone.”

Return to top