DEC charges Allegany man in largest seizure of illegal reptiles in state history


ALLEGANY, N.Y. (WIVB)– 71-year-old William Engelder of Allegany is being charged with multiple violations in connection with the illegal possession and sale of wildlife, according to the DEC.

DEC officials are calling this the largest seizure of illegal reptiles in New York State history.

A search warrant was executed by the DEC’s environmental crimes investigation unit and DEC officers at Engelder’s home in Allegany in August 2018 after they received a tip about a man harboring illegal animals.

Officials say several animals seized were threatened species or species of special concern.

Venomous reptiles, including three king cobras, one being over ten feet long, and six Gila monsters were among animals allegedly illegally being housed.

Other animals seized include:

  • Seventeen bog turtles, a native endangered species of New York
  • Two box turtles
  • 28 Blanding’s turtles
  • 53 wood turtles
  • Two painted turtles
  • Six snapping turtles
  • 184 spotted turtles  

The final count of illegally kept wildlife amounted to 292 animals. Twenty boxes of various species of turtle eggs were also seized. 

Engelder is charged with:

  • Reckless endangerment in the 1st degree
  • Illegal sale of wildlife
  • Possessing a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle
  • Nine counts of overdriving, torturing, and injuring animals
  • Failure to provide proper sustenance
  • 26 counts of illegally possessing and transporting venomous reptiles
  • Possessing an endangered species without a permit
  • 283 counts of illegally possessing a wild animal as a pet

If convicted on all charges, Engelder faces a max fine of $104,000 and/or up to 33 years in prison.

Pictures of some of the seized reptiles below

Courtesy of NYS DEC
Courtesy of NYS DEC

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