Anacondas in Region 8?

June 22, 2005 – Posted at 2:37 p.m. CDT
TURRELL, AR -- Region 8 is home to plenty of snakes...some of the most dangerous being the water moccasin and the copperhead, but there may be a new threat in one Northeast Arkansas community.
Wildlife officials say there have been two sightings of yellow anacondas at the Wapanocca National Wildlife Refuge near Turrell. While they haven't attacked humans, the aggressive breed could wreak havoc on the refuge's eco-system.
“It's an invasive species and we don't need any of those types on the refuge,” said Refuge Manager Glen Miller.
Officials on alert for yellow anacondas after a fisherman saw one last year.
“He figured it was all as long as his boat, which is a fourteen foot boat, and he said that two men's hands would not be able to get around the snake, so it was a large snake,” said Miller.
And another sighting by a wildlife official just weeks ago.
“He described it as being about 3-4 inches in diameter and about six feet long. So it probably wasn't the same snake because this one was a little smaller,” said Miller.
Yellow anaconda can grow up to fifteen feet long and are native to the swamps of South America, so it's no wonder they might find a refuge like this a good place to call home. But how does a snake like this get to Region 8?
“These two were pets, somebody raised them. The yellow anaconda is an aggressive snake once it gets larger and they probably got too aggressive for them. The National Wildlife Refuges are not the place to be releasing exotic animals,” said Miller.
And if you happen to cross paths with the yellow striped snakes?
“I don't think you would have to worry about them trying to eat us or anything like that because they are a smaller snake,” said Miller, “Don't aggravate it and I would stay away from it.”
The anaconda snake can live up to 20 years in the wild.