A green anaconda is loose in Lake Hopatcong in Jefferson Township, situated in northern New Jersey, and reptile expert Gerald Andrejcak revealed that state wildlife authorities told him to "keep his mouth shut" regarding the actual species of the snake.
The snake was initially described as a boa, which a green anaconda technically is, but state officials wanted to avoid causing a panic in the area. "I was sworn to keep my mouth shut by local officials to avoid causing a panic," Andrejcak commented, adding, "Now that there's a panic, I'm going on the record."
Andrejack positively identified the snake on Thursday as a 16-foot-long green anaconda, after spotting it by the lake. The snake had vanished by the time animal care workers arrived to attempt to wrangle it.
The green anaconda, or Eunectes murinus, is native to South America, and has been confirmed to grow to more than 22 feet long, and can weigh over 215 pounds. Though, a $50,000 reward stands for anyone who can capture a green anaconda measuring 30 feet long, and historical records indicate that the snake, which lives in remote areas of rain forests, can grow to 40 feet long, and weigh over 550 pounds.
The green anaconda's only known predator is man, and can take down large prey including deer and cattle.
As a side note, behold Jon Voight's continuous mean-mugging from the 1997 J.Lo thriller Anaconda:
Andrejack, an employee of Common Sense for Animals, remarked that he is frustrated by the lack of response from wildlife officials, and hopes to find the snake before someone kills it.
Tony Colantonio, who lives by the lake, commented, "If someone can kill it and get out of here, that's fine. I want proof that it's gone."
Here is a video Colantonio captured of the snake:
Colantonio added, "There's kids swimming in the lake, there's going to be people in the water this weekend, and my kids can't go in their backyard. It's a green anaconda, a predator, hunting all day every day. It's not a python that lives 80 percent of its life on land and only needs to eat once a month. It's one of the most aggressive snakes out there. It's been two weeks and (the township and state) have done nothing. Everybody I call just blows me off."
Image via Wikimedia Commons