HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) collected 12 illegal animals over a two-week span. The state showed off the four snakes and eight lizards taken in between June 29 and July 13.
"I think it's because that once we had a report of these animals, people are concerned about the hefty fines that they may face, and possibly they're concerned about the environment and other issues," said Glenn Sakamoto, HDOA's import and compliance section chief.
Owners surrendered eight of the reptiles through the state's amnesty program. For example, a python and boa constrictor were turned in to Hilo's Plant Quarantine Branch. The Hawaiian Humane Society took in a baby iguana and two leopard geckos with eggs.
"Anyone that does have an illegal animal can turn it in. No questions asked, no penalty. The animals that are turned in will not be euthanized. They will be sent out in the future with the help of the zoos," said Sakamoto.
Hunters captured a boa constrictor in the wild in Waiawa. Authorities seized other animals like an eastern blue-tongued skink and a bearded dragon through CrimeStoppers tips.
"We're not encouraging people to turn in their friends or anything what we are encouraging people is to turn it in through amnesty and not release it in the wild. For instance, this (boa constrictor) could have killed a child," said Kim Buffett of CrimeStoppers.
Agriculture officials are concerned that some illegal animals are slipping into the islands because of a cutback in the number of inspectors. There were 95 statewide in 2009. Now there are only 50. According to HDOA, the number of interceptions at Hawaii's airports from 1,457 to 730 when comparing the six-month span prior to the layoffs to the same period in 2010. The governor just approved restoring 10 inspector positions on Oahu.
"It's going to make a major impact because of the number, not only animals coming in, but the amount of cargo that we need to inspect for other types of invasive species that may come in whether its insects or diseases," said Sakamoto.
Anyone with information on illegal animals should call the Pest Hotline at 643-PEST (7378) or CrimeStoppers on your island.
Click HERE for a complete list of the illegal animals collected.