Fishermen say they saw an Anaconda in Lake Texoma - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Fishermen say they saw an Anaconda in Lake Texoma

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LAKE TEXOMA -- Shane Lawrence and his brother-in-law Joe Williamson go fishing off a boat dock near the Denison Dam all the time. They often wade into the water -- in the middle of the night -- to have the best chance at a bite.

But what they say they saw in the water early Thursday morning, lurking feet away from their lures, was no fish.

"I said look, you need to get out of the water and get out of the water now! Its head was about that big around and it was green and it was anywhere from 16 foot to 20 foot long," Lawrence said.

The men say spotlights helped them identify what they believe was a green Anaconda, typically found in South America. Turns out, their claims may hold more water than you think.

In 2007, the state passed a law to address the problem of non-native snakes in Texas. Under the law, any person possessing a snake non-native to Texas must have a permit. Releasing one of those snakes into the wild is punishable by a fine of between $500 and $4,000, and up to one year in jail.

Authorities in Florida say invasive pythons have become a major problem because owners who don't want them anymore release them into the Everglades.

Dale Moses is a game warden with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. While he says he's never received a report of any snake like Lawrence and Williamson describe, he says it's possible.

Regardless, he says, it's a reminder to pet owners that letting loose unwanted non-native snakes into the wild is never a good idea.

"When you take on a pet like that you take on a certain responsibility and if you decide that you no longer want to take that responsibility on, you need to dispose of it properly. Either give it to another collector, or sell it. You don't just turn it out and release it into the wildlife," Moses said.

Moses says anyone who encounters a snake they believe to be non-native, or that appears out-of-the ordinary should contact the game warden.

As for Lawrence and Williamson, they say after their snake sighting they bailed. "I was done fishing after that," Williamson said.

They say they plan to keep their feet on the dry dock during fishing trips from now on.

"To the people that think you're making this all up, or maybe you saw something wrong?" reporter Meredith Yeomans asked. "Come out here and go swimming," Williamson said. "That's what I say," Lawrence said.