August 31, 2013 11:51:11 PM
A Mississippi State veterinary student is under investigation after law enforcement discovered hundreds of exotic wildlife at his Starkville home.
The Starkville Police Department executed a search warrant at 203 Park Avenue Wednesday after they received multiple noise complaints from neighbors, according to a press release issued by the department. The SPD was assisted by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, federal agents with Federal Wildlife Services and the Oktibbeha County Sheriff's Department.
Authorities discovered 50 to 75 snakes, African cats, South American and African birds as well as turtles, frogs and lizards. The release states the exact number of animals at the residence remains unclear because law enforcement official have not been able to complete an inventory for safety reasons. The animals were still located at the property on Friday while authorities try to locate a proper place to house the animals. The SPD maintains the animals do not pose a threat to neighbors, however.
The male student, whose name has not being released, has not yet been charged. Attempts to contact the student at his home Friday afternoon were unsuccessful. While the driveway sat empty, bags of various food and supplies sat stacked in the garage next to empty aquariums and a generator.
The window panes in the front door were obstructed by stacks of electronics and wires. Aquariums could be seen through ripped blinds in the front room of the house. Dozens of cages lined the backyard as well as a large, wooden container in the middle. The cages were filled with numerous birds while several birds walked free. Two Sahara cats were housed in a plywood-and-wire cage.
Located on a dead end street, the home has neighboring houses on both sides but is separated by a thin tree line. Homes are also located a short distance across the street.
A neighbor, who asked that her name not be used, said she knew about the animals because she has seen the young man taking food to the backyard on multiple occasions. However, she did not know how many species were in the backyard. The woman has lived in the neighborhood for less than a month and said as a mother of two small children, she was "concerned" about exotic animals living such a short distance away for her home.
"It's very concerning," she said. "I didn't think you could have those kind of animals inside the city limits."
SPD said the investigation is ongoing.
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.
1. Saturday night fire destroys Columbus home COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
2. After 11 years as EMCC president, Young stepping down COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
3. 6-candidate race forms for Lowndes circuit clerk COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
5. Ecolab reducing Columbus workforce COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY