New York man charged in largest seizure of illegal reptiles in state history, officials say

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New York State Department of Environmental Conservation(ALLEGANY, N.Y.) -- A 71-year-old New York man faces a slew of charges after officials seized hundreds of turtles and three king cobras from his home, authorities said.

The seizure is believed to be the largest illegal reptiles bust in New York state history.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos announced Wednesday that William Engelder, 71, of Allegany, was charged with reckless endangerment, illegal sale of wildlife, overdriving, torturing and injuring animals, illegal possession and transportation of venomous reptiles, illegal possession of wild animals as pets and possessing an endangered species without a permit, among other offenses.

State wildlife officers seized the reptiles while conducting a search warrant at Engelder's home last August after receiving a tip about a man harboring illegal animals, according to a press release from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Among the reptiles authorities say were illegally housed at the residence were three king cobras, the longest venomous snake in the world, and six Gila monsters, a species of venomous lizard.

There were also 184 spotted turtles, 53 wood turtles, 28 Blanding's turtles, 17 bog turtles, which is a critically endangered species native to New York, six snapping turtles and two painted turtles.

If convicted on all charges, Engelder faces up to a maximum fine of $104,000 and up to 33 years in prison.

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