Hawaii acts swiftly after gopher snake is found on Molokai

Hawaii is not tolerant when it comes to snakes being brought to the islands, and the recent discovery (and prompt killing) of a gopher snake is a case in point.

The state Department of Agriculture announced Monday that the 20-inch nonvenomous snake was found in a shipping container that arrived in Molokai from California.

All snakes are considered invasive in Hawaii. The gopher snake was discovered as the container was being unloaded at a Kaunankakai hardware store.

Police were notified and an officer arrived and killed the reptile with a pellet gun. A search of the surrounding area did not uncover other snakes.

A Hawaii News Now story about the discovery generated anger among social media followers who believe the snake could have been spared.

“They killed a nonvenomous snake [that] could’ve went to the zoo or back to California?” one commenter asked via Instagram.

“Don’t hurt it! Just get it back to where it belongs,” another person wrote. “Little guy probably scared.”

If large snakes were to gain a foothold on islands in Hawaii, without natural predators, they would jeopardize native wildlife.

The state defines invasive species as any animal that is “1) harmful to the environment, economy, and/or human health, and 2) not native to Hawaii (i.e., species that were introduced by human assistance rather than by their own means of introduction).”

The Hawaii Invasive Species Council, on its website, points to the brown tree snake decimating native bird populations in Guam after establishing themselves there.

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture stated in a news release that gopher snakes can measure to about 7 feet. The prey on small rodents, rabbits, lizards, and other small critters.

It’s illegal to possess any type of snake in Hawaii.

Story originally appeared on For The Win