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5 December 2000
The hunt for the elusive snake in Freeman's Bay in Auckland has been called off after a member of the public came forward claiming to have lost a snakeskin in the vicinity of the area where the Freeman's Bay snakeskin was found.
The man says he lost the snakeskin on route to a Halloween Ball on the 28 October. When interviewed last week, he identified the Freeman's Bay skin as being his from a selection of snakeskins presented to him.
Based on this identification, a description of the location where the man lost his snakeskin, and the absence of any sign of a live snake despite several thorough searches of the area, MAF has concluded that the skin lost on route to the ball and the skin discovered in the Freeman's Bay gutter, are likely to be one and the same.
The man purchased the snakeskin, which was sewn into a coat, several years ago in a second-hand shop. He was unaware he had lost the snakeskin, and only several weeks later made the connection to the MAF snake hunt campaign. MAF believe that the skin was genuinely lost, and not intentionally placed as a practical joke.
Experts had thought the snakeskin was relatively fresh and are now re-evaluating their methods on how to best determine the age of a snakeskin.
No public announcement could be made until these findings were verified. The MAF snake-catcher team has remained on stand-by in Auckland waiting for fine weather to conduct night searches in the area. There were also plans to check local homes where owners were concerned that their roof spaces may have been providing refuge for the snake.
MAF takes the possibility of a snake loose in New Zealand seriously. The Ministry could not afford to treat the possibility as anything else but real.
It is illegal to bring any new or exotic species of animal into New Zealand without the approval of the Environmental Risk Management Authority. Because of the threat snakes pose to human health, our environment and native fauna, it is extremely unlikely that permission will ever be granted to deliberately import them to New Zealand.
For further information contact:
Allen Bryce, MAF, Programme Manager, Surveillance and Response. Telephone: 04-4702-787 or 021-799-110
Gita Parsot, MAF Communications. Telephone: N/A