Pythons plague Valdosta neighborhood

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By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
May 17, 2018

Viewer photo provided to WCTV.

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- Snakes are on the loose and getting on the nerves of those in one Valdosta neighborhood.

Ball pythons are being spotted on the streets and around homes in the Old Wood Valley neighborhood north of the Valdosta mall. While unnerving for most of those living in the area, Georgia DNR officials said the reptiles are not a threat to humans.

"I'm walking outside and I'm walking on thin ice, a little scared," said Zayne Whittaker, a resident of Wood Valley. "You got kids in the neighborhood, small pets and stuff. It's definitely not cool that it's happening, I hope they catch the rest of them."

Residents said they have caught or killed 25 ball pythons in the last week. That's around about the same time illegal exotic animals were seized by the DNR. Agents said the snakes could have been released prior to the search.

"It's awful, it's scary, it's frightening," said neighbor Tammy Sears. "Terrified. These animals do not belong here, what happened was crazy. We're all reacting as we normally would, we're afraid. I'm afraid. I'm afraid of them. I don't want my animals injured, I have dogs that go out."

DNR officials said an investigation is still ongoing, and cannot release any more information.

"Our biggest concern is not knowing how many there are out there, and when they're going to appear," said one resident who wished to remain anonymous.

Corey Anderson is a biology professor at Valdosta State University and lives in Wood Valley. He reiterated a statement from the DNR that the snakes are not dangerous.

"Ball pythons are probably the best case scenario in terms of, if you were to have a snake get out. They're fairly harmless," Anderson said.

Now, the question most residents want an answer to is how long this will last, and could the snakes become permanent members of the community. Experts said, it's possible, but it's unknown territory.

"If they can get rid of enough of them, there's a good chance that there might not be a problem at all. However, in theory, it doesn't take a whole lot of snakes to start a population," Anderson said.

Community members are now urging everyone to work together in order to get them out of the neighborhood.

"The quicker everybody can search for them, I mean at night get out and be aware, look for them," one neighbor said.

The DNR said if you spot one of the ball pythons, stay away from it and call animal control. Agents said no animals were released or escaped that could cause harm to the public.

By: WCTV Eyewitness News
May 17, 2018

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) –- Neighbors are complaining about pythons on the loose in the Old Wood Valley neighborhood of Valdosta.

“The neighborhood is in a bit of a panic,” one woman told WCTV, saying nearly 20 of the snakes had been found recently.

“We are quite worried about our children and pets,” she said.

It comes a week after the Georgia Department of Natural Resources says it served a search warrant on a home in the neighborhood and removed some illegal exotic animals.

A DNR spokesman says the ball pythons spotted by neighbors may have been released prior to the seizure.

“Ball pythons can be legally purchased in many pet stores and do not pose any danger to the public,” said Georgia DNR public affairs officer, Mark McKinnon. “No animals that would endanger the public escaped or were released,” McKinnon said.

DNR says if someone sees a ball python, they should leave it alone and call animal control.

The agency is not releasing any other information on the case because it is an ongoing investigation.

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