An undercover operation by council officers at a Doncaster reptile show has led to a snake breeder being taken to court for illegal trading.
The investigation was launched after repeated ‘non-compliance’ with the law at International Herpetological Society events at The Dome, and further events this year will also be closely monitored.
A criminal prosecution was brought by the authority against Adam Wilford, of AC Snakes, Leicestershire, which has resulted in a formal caution being issued to him for selling snakes at a market stall in June 2012.
Mr Wilford, who describes himself as a private breeder, initially denied the offence, but finally admitted to ‘carrying on a business’ of selling animals as pets at a market, and was issued with a caution.
The Animal Protection Agency charity believes the case was the first of its kind.
Said a spokesman: “We hope that it will set an example for other councils to follow, and also serve as a deterrent for animal sellers including so-called ‘hobbyist breeders’ hoping to sell at similar events planned around the country.
“The Animal Protection Agency also hopes that managers of venues, at which events are planned this year, withdraw permission for the markets and avoid being associated with illegal activity.”
At last June’s event council officers made a random test purchase of a snake because previous visits had caused them concern.
Peter Dale, director of regeneration and environment, said: “Doncaster Council has previously liaised with the organisers of the International Herpetological Society events in an attempt to ensure compliance with relevant legislation.
“Following continued non-compliance with the council’s advice, a covert operation was conducted by council officers to provide evidence of the offence.
“As the offence was initially denied, the matter proceeded to the Magistrates Court.
“However, after a late admission by the defendant to the Section 2 offence on the day of the hearing, a caution was considered proportionate and appropriate and was administered in accordance with Home Office and Crown Prosecution Service guidance. The prosecution was then formally withdrawn by Doncaster Council.
“Doncaster Council will continue to investigate and prosecute any offences disclosed.”