Raleigh city council considers venomous snake ban following loose cobra saga

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Just when you thought Raleigh's snake saga was over, it's growing new legs with the city council considering a ban on venomous snakes and other animals deemed wild and dangerous.

A zebra cobra on the loose in Raleigh's suburbs this summer put a lot of people in harm's way and the city councilor whose district was the epicenter for the days-long drama is proposing the new ordinance with the aim of preventing a repeat.

"I realize that some have made light of this incident and now that the snake is captured and everyone is safe, looking back, I can see how this all created a bit of dread and humor at the same time, like something out of a B-rated horror film," said David Knight. "But I think you thought it was funny only if you didn't live in the neighborhood."

Robin Tatum, City Attorney, said she and city staff who researched and drafted the proposed ordinance found several other local governments already had similar regulations on the books while Raleigh had none.

Article 55 of North Carolina law already regulates the keeping of venomous snakes and was used in the prosecution of the zebra cobra's owner who pleaded guilty to charges he failed to properly report the snake's escape.

Raleigh zebra cobra owner must give up his snakes, pay $13,000 after plea deal

Nathan Shepherd of Wake County, who spoke during the public comment portion of city council's regular meeting Tuesday, said state law is adequate and ensures there are consequences for wrongdoing when it comes to animals deemed wild and dangerous.

"This proposed ban is overreaching and reactionary and it is unethical," Shepherd said. "A very rare and irresponsible act of one person should not cast blame on the entire community of venomous keepers."

Nicole Stewart, Mayor Pro Tem, also said the ordinance which prohibits the feeding of feral cats and other animals on Raleigh citizens' private property goes too far.
"I feel like this ordinance is like using a sledge hammer to crack a nut," said Stewart.

Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin said she understood the premise of the ban.

"I know there were a lot of people in north Raleigh neighborhoods who were genuinely concerned about this and I don't blame them," Baldwin said.

However, she joined the rest of the council and voted to send the draft ordinance to the Growth and Natural Resources committee for further discussion, citing the feral cat she herself has befriended.

"I tell you what, I would still feed that feral cat and let you fine me- so there," said Baldwin. "They're just part of our family."

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