A Maryland man was arrested Sunday afternoon for allegedly shooting at a snake in his own backyard.
James Matthews Jr., 62, found out that not only is it illegal to kill snakes in Maryland, but firing a gun in the city of Laurel is illegal except in self-defense.
A poisonous copperhead coming your way might qualify as a case of self-defense but Matthews couldn’t prove that he was facing any such imminent harm. He didn’t know what sort of snake he shot, and when police searched the woods behind his house, they didn’t find any snake, dead or aive. That left Matthews facing a firearms charge.
If, on the other hand, he had been able to produce the snake, he might have been in trouble with the Department of Natural Resources. DNR ecologist Scott Smith said that 27 species of snake live in Maryland. Two are poisonous — the copperhead and the timber rattlesnake.
All 27 are protected species and cannot be killed under state law.