Laurel man arrested after encounter with snake

Laurel man arrested after encounter with snake

LAUREL, Md: -  A Laurel man was arrested Sunday after attempting to shoot a snake with his shotgun.

Laurel Police were called to the 15000 block of Laurel Oaks Lane at 12:25 pm after getting reports of shots fired.

Officers found  James Matthews Jr., 62,   in the woods behind his house with a shotgun.

Police say Matthews told them he used the shotgun kill a snake.

Matthews was arrested and charged with violating a city ordinance that “prohibits the discharging of any firearm, air rifle, slingshot, or other weapon that discharges a projectile,” that can hurt someone unless you are” in defense of your person or property.”

Law enforcement officers are exempt.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources says it’s illegal to kill snakes since they are a protected species.

Maryland Department of the Environment Ecologist Scott Smith says of the 27 species of snakes found in Maryland, only two are venomous:  the Timber rattlesnake and the Copperhead.

Smith says it’s unlikely that you would see a Timber rattlesnake in Laurel, but there have been some Copperhead sightings nearby recently.

His advice if you see a snake is to just leave it alone.

“Snakes are a valuable part of the eco-system . They help with rodent control and with frogs and toads that can get plentiful. They have as much of a part to play in nature as raccoons and squirrels.”

If you want to know if the snake you’ve seen near your home is dangerous, there are some photos of Copperheads, Timber rattlesnakes, and other reptiles on the DNR website at