What’s the Law on Killing Snakes in Your State?

In flooded regions across the country displaced snakes are seeking shelter and food in areas close to people, often in damaged homes. Not all snakes are venomous and in many areas there are worries that people will indiscriminately kill “good” snakes.

But can you kill them? Many people may not be aware of this, the fact is that in many states it IS illegal to kill a snake. So you may want to think twice before you grab that shovel! Check here for states with rules.

The Federal Endangered Species Act protects nine species of snakes nationwide; therefore, individuals must understand their state’s law on killing them. Fines for violating the Endangered Species Act by killing protected snakes can be as high as $50,000 and/or a year in prison. There are nine species that are federally protected.

States regulate snake hunting by designating certain snakes as non-game animals or impose bag limits with four categories of laws:

  • There is a total ban on killing in NJ, RI, TN, VA & WA. 
  • Venomous snakes are not protected in AL, CA, FL, GA, LA, MA, MI, MS, MT, NV, NC, OK, SC, TX, and WY. 
  • All snakes are protected in AR, CO, IA, IL, IN, KS, MN, MO, NE, NM, NY, OH, OR, PA, UT, and WI. 
  • There are limited number/size killed laws in AZ, ID, NM, OK, PA, UT, and WV. 

In addition, possession limits exist in Wisconsin & California while transporting is prohibited across state lines. However, invasive non-native snakes are often legal to kill, such as pythons & boas, but avoid harming native species unless safety is a concern.