Alta Police Chief Mike McDonald got a chance to meet a live, poisonous rattlesnake for the first time in his life, last week - up close and personal after the reptile was taken into custody by the Department.
"It hung out in my office," McDonald says. "First time I've been around a rattlesnake. It (the snake's tail) was very loud." Fortunately the snake was contained in a glass aquarium, but McDonald says they secured the lid with duct tape, just in case.
McDonald says he received a call from an anonymous caller asking him if having a snake like this was legal. Apparently an Alta resident had picked the snake up while traveling through Colorado.
McDonald said he told the caller it was against the City Ordinance. Alta Police called the Iowa DNR who contacted officials in Colorado and found out it's also illegal to take a live snake out of the state. The Police Department confiscated the animal on August 10, however, didn't press charges. However, McDonald says according to the DNR it will be up to the State of Colorado whether or not they want to take any action.
McDonald says the resident had fed the snake a mouse before the police picked it up and there was an additional mouse in the aquarium which was still alive when the DNR came to pick it up about three days later.
An official with the IDNR came to pick up the snake and attempted to contact a herpetologist from Iowa State University to get correct breed identification and see if the animal is endangered. "(The DNR says) if the State of Colorado doesn't want it back, what they've done in the past is donate the reptile to use it in studies at one of the universities," McDonald says.
McDonald says he doesn't believe this is the first time the Alta Police Department has picked up a snake. An officer apparently had to pick up a python once. However, he says this is the first time they've dealt with a venomous snake. He chuckles and says he's glad he didn't have to search outthose reptiles in the wild. He said the rattlesnake is one of the more unusual calls the's ever received. "Every other animal call has been something common to the area," he says.