Utah snake handler loses appeal over rubber boas

The Associated Press State and Local Wire

Salt Lake City, UT

A Utah man convicted of illegally possessing dozens of rubber boa snakes can't sue authorities over the death of almost all of them while they were in state custody.  The Utah Supreme Court ruled Friday the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is immune from claims of negligence.

Ryan Hoyer, a 35-year-old Clearfield accountant, says the DWR kept the 65 rubber boas in an evidence room where all but three died of dehydration or starvation. Hoyer, who was fined $800 in Operation Slither, says he's disappointed that he can't hold authorities accountable for their "terrible care."

The court rejected Hoyer's argument that authorities willfully let the snakes die. A spokesman for DWR, an agency that is closed on Fridays, didn't immediately return a message from The Associated Press.

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