January 31, 2008
Deming, N.M. - On Thursday, Jan. 24 James D. Bear, 37, was bitten
on his right thumb by canebrake rattlesnake while he was alone in
his three-bedroom mobile home. Bear died at 11:49 a.m. the
following Tuesday at El Paso's Thomason Hospital.
The canebrake rattlesnake that bit Bear was one of 179 snakes he
kept and bred in various containers in his home. 84 of the snakes
were venomous species.
Deming police called the Department of Game and Fish to Bear's
mobile home shortly after Bear was bitten to assist with the
snakes and to determine whether any state or federal laws had been
broken. An investigation indicated that Bear did not have the
necessary permits to possess, obtain or sell the snakes. Wildlife
Officers with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
confiscated the snakes and materials relating to their
transportation and sale Jan. 30 on a warrant issued by Sixth
Judicial District Court Judge Gary Jeffreys.
The confiscated snakes were turned over to friends of Bear, who
said they planned to take the reptiles to Texas, where they would
be kept on behalf of Bear's wife, Danielle Plantz, and their three
It is illegal to import any live wild animals, birds or fish into
New Mexico without first obtaining a permit from the Department of
Game and Fish. Other regulations apply to venomous snakes, and the
collection or sales of any wild animals.
"It is important that we carefully control any species that we
bring into our state, for public safety and to protect our native
game animals, birds and fish against infectious or contagious
diseases," Department Chief of Law Enforcement Dan Brooks said.
The Department currently is reviewing the rules concerning the
importation, possession and sales of wild animals, birds and fish.
Information about the rules and an opportunity to comment about
them and offer suggestions is available on the Department website,
www.wildlife.state.nm.us . Click on "Public comments."