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Freedoms in Florida Dwindle As FWC Slaughters Pet Boa And 34 Other Snakes On Holy Thursday

This incident is apparently not the first time the FWC killed or seized animals that were in the legal possession of their keepers before the Prohibited Species rule was enacted.

USARK Florida is also calling on Governor DeSantis to hold FWC accountable by asking for the resignation of the FWC employee who gave the unjust order for these snakes to be brutally killed without cause.

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The freedom to keep reptiles in the state of Florida eroded even further as Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers showed up unannounced at a reptile facility in the city of Sunrise, and slaughtered 34 pythons and a pregnant boa constrictor in what reptile keepers have called the Holy Thursday Massacre.

According to USARK Florida, FWC law enforcement officers killed 29 reticulated pythons and five Burmese pythons owned by Chris Coffee. Coffee, on a prior order from the FWC, was forced to keep the snakes in captivity for over a year after a deadline set by the FWC passed and Coffee was not yet able to rehome the reptiles.

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Conditional Species Permit Granted

The reptiles in Coffee’s possession were legally kept as he had a “Conditional Species Permit,” that was given to him by the FWC prior to the “Prohibited Species” rule enacted in 2021. That rule should have exempted his reptiles as he had all permits to keep the snakes prior to the new rule.


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The association said Coffee notified FWC about a year ago that he had not yet rehomed the reptiles he was working to find homes for in the short time the FWC alloted, and asked for an extension. The FWC responded by raiding his facility and charging him with 72 criminal charges, two for each reticulated and Burmese python in his possession. According to USARK Florida, Coffee was told by FWC that he could not rehome or euthanize the reptiles or he would face arrest.

Florida FWC kills boa constrictor

FWC Officer poses for picture with a freshly-killed captive bred Hypomelanistic Burmese python named “Sweetie,” before the snake’s carcass is unceremoniously thrown into a trash can. (Photo by Chris Coffee, who has granted permission for this photo to be published and disseminated)

The snakes were housed at the facility of Bill McAdam with the knowledge of the FWC for a year until April 6, 2023, when FWC officers Lex Corteguera, Jonathon Wright, Zach Beppel, and Christopher Ryan arrived at the facility, alleging they had received a report of an escaped reticulated python in the area. Coffee apparently let the FWC officers into the facility, where they then proceeded to remove the snakes from their enclosures and killed them all.

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Pennetrating Captive Bolt Gun Shot To The Head

Coffee described the device used to kill the snakes as some sort of nail gun, but USARK Florida believes the device was a penetrating captive bolt gun. The officers then apparently spent about four hours killing all the snakes with shots to the heads of these animals. After the carnage, 29 reticulated pythons, five Burmese pythons and a Boa constrictor were killed.

This incident is apparently not the first time the FWC killed or seized animals that were in the legal possession of their keepers before the Prohibited Species rule was enacted. USARK Florida reports that FWC Officer Bob O’Horo raided Ty Park’s IguanaLand, confiscating 87 iguanas, of which 30 were reported to have been euthanized. FWC officer Mia Ruggiero apparently threatened to seize Green Day the Iguana from Rotary Park in Cape Coral. Green Day is the mascot of the park. Media coverage caused the FWC to back off and permitted the park to keep Green Day and other reptiles on display.

Florida FWC Officer Competency Questioned

“USARK Florida questions how FWC officers who are not competent enough to identify animals properly are empowered by the state to kill them. We believe that in instances where euthanasia is absolutely necessary, the animals should be identified by an expert and only euthanized by a qualified veterinarian using the most humane methods possible,” the association wrote in press release sent to ReptilesMagazine.com.

“USARK FL is calling for a full investigation into the killing of McAdam’s Boa constrictor and Coffee’s Pythons by the officers Corteguera, Wright, Beppel, and Ryan by new FWC Inspector General (IG) Percy Griffin. Griffin was appointed earlier this year after previous Inspector General Michael Troelstrup resigned in disgrace with the revelation of a scandal involving his “inappropriate relationship” with the wife of an FWC officer whom he was investigating.”

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“USARK Florida is also calling on Governor DeSantis to hold FWC accountable by asking for the resignation of the FWC employee who gave the unjust order for these snakes to be brutally killed without cause. Further, USARK Florida respectfully requests that the Governor replace current staff leadership with new leadership, capable of focusing agency resources on Florida’s true wildlife issues, including but not limited to excessive mortality of wild Manatees, Florida panthers, Gopher tortoises, and Diamondback terrapins, as well as address water and habitat quality issues caused by FWC’s extensive herbicide spraying program.”