14-419. Investigation of suspected violations; seizure and examination of reptiles; disposition of reptiles.

(a) In any case in which any law-enforcement officer or animal control officer has probable cause to believe that any of the provisions of this Article have been or are about to be violated, it shall be the duty of the officer and the officer is authorized, empowered, and directed to immediately investigate the violation or impending violation and to consult with representatives of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences or the North Carolina Zoological Park or a designated representative of either the Museum or Zoological Park to identify appropriate and safe methods to seize the reptile or reptiles involved, to seize the reptile or reptiles involved, and the officer is authorized and directed to deliver: (i) a reptile believed to be venomous to the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences or to its designated representative for examination for the purpose of ascertaining whether the reptile is regulated under this Article; and, (ii) a reptile believed to be a large constricting snake or crocodilian to the North Carolina Zoological Park for the purpose of ascertaining whether the reptile is regulated under this Article. In any case in which a law enforcement officer or animal control officer determines that there is an immediate risk to public safety, the officer shall not be required to consult with representatives of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences or the North Carolina Zoological Park as provided by this subsection.

(b) If the Museum or the Zoological Park or their designated representatives find that a seized reptile is a venomous reptile, large constricting snake, or crocodilian regulated under this Article, the Museum or the Zoological Park or their designated representative shall determine final disposition of the reptile in a manner consistent with the safety of the public, which in the case of a venomous reptile for which antivenin approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration is not readily available, shall be euthanized unless the species is protected under the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973.

(c) If the Museum or the Zoological Park or their designated representatives find that the reptile is not a venomous reptile, large constricting snake, or crocodilian regulated under this Article, and either no criminal warrants or indictments are initiated in connection with the reptile within 10 days of initial seizure, or a court of law determines that the reptile is not being owned, possessed, used, transported, or trafficked in violation of this Article, then it shall be the duty of the law enforcement officer to return the reptile or reptiles to the person from whom they were seized within 15 days. (1949, c. 1084, s. 4; 1981, c. 203, s. 1; 1993, c. 561, s. 116(g); 2009-344, s. 1; 2013-413, s. 38(b); 2014-115, s. 17; 2014-120, s. 39.)