Specialist on the hunt for snake

Says public participation causing problems

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“In reality, the snake won't hurt humans unless it's cornered. Then it's instinct will kick in to protect itself.”
Reptile specialist Gerald Andrejcak

By Laurie Gordon

— Reptile specialist Gerald Andrejcak identified the snake that's been trolling around Lake Hopatcong as a green anaconda last week.

Originally thought to be a boa constrictor, the snake is an anaconda which is the heaviest snake in the world, he said.

Andrejcak, of Common Sense Animals in Broadway, NJ, was on the lake Sunday to try to trap the reptile, but was met with a mob of boaters and bystanders.

“They either wanted to try to catch the snake themselves or watch me catch it,” he said. “I yelled at them to back off, but it didn't seem to do much good."

By the time on-lookers had dispersed and the lake had calmed down enough for Andrejcak to pursue the snake, it was too dark to continue.

“People think of the movie Anaconda starring Jennifer Lopez or other movies,” Andrejcak said. “In reality, the snake won't hurt humans unless it's cornered. Then it's instinct will kick in to protect itself.”

Andrejcak wants to warn people to keep infants, small dogs and other animals out of the lake until the snake is caught.

Andrejcak has found several spots on Halsey Island where it appears the snake rests. He will look to capture the snake at one of these points or, if seen in the water, get it to land.

“The snake has a huge advantage in the water,” he said.

The reptile specialist believes the snake is either feeding on the island or along the shoreline where it has been spotted in a boat house.

“It's probably eating muskrats and other rodents and feeding between the island and nearby shoreline,” he said.

How did an anaconda end up in Lake Hopatcong?

“I'm pretty sure it was a dump. Someone either got it and realized it was too big or got it when it was a baby and it grew up,” Andrejcak said.

Andrejcak was born and raised in New Jersey. He has more than 20 years experience as a reptile expert and had his first snake at a very young age.

“The plan is to bait it and net it," Andrejcak said.

He urges the public that if they see him out there to keep away as the only effective way to capture the snake is “low and slow.”

Andrejcak has been instructed to contact Fish, Game and Wildlife as soon as he captures the snake.

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