United States Association of Reptile Keepers, Florida

Pet Slaughtered by FWC Officers, Necropsy Reveals Unborn Babies

Wednesday, April 19, 2023 9:00 AM | USARK FL (Administrator)

Pet Slaughtered by FWC Officers, Necropsy Reveals Unborn Babies

(WARNING: Graphic images!)

The value of offspring contained by this pet, a legally owned animal, may have been over $100,000 if they had not been killed by FWC.

A pregnant pet named Big Shirl was inhumanely and unnecessarily slaughtered by Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Law Enforcement Officers on April 6. Big Shirl was raised from birth for over ten years by Bill McAdam. This butchery was part of an event which has become known as the “Holy Thursday Massacre” and it happened at Bill McAdam’s animal facility in Sunrise, FL in Broward County. Video of the incident shows the animal writhing on the floor for more than 20 minutes after the FWC officers administered a single bolt charge to the head. Before reading on, take pause and let it sink in that a healthy, legally owned pet was carelessly destroyed.

Regardless of how you may feel about the types of animals involved, none of the Holy Thursday Massacre was necessary and there was no urgency surrounding this event. Big Shirl was a beloved pet Boa constrictor, a species of snake that is docile under human care and commonly kept as pets. A necropsy has revealed that Big Shirl was carrying 32 babies which were only a few weeks away from being born. Boas give birth to live young rather than laying eggs like many other snakes. In addition to slaying Big Shirl, 34 pythons were executed.

The necropsy, performed by Dr. Dale Porcher DVM, found the cause of death of the adult female Boa to be the penetrating wound caused by a bolt gun charge, which passed entirely through the snake’s head and exited through the lower jaw. Dr. Porcher confirmed that the Boa appeared very healthy and the babies were developing normally.

Above: A necropsy has revealed that a pregnant Boa constrictor slaughtered by FWC officers in the “Holy Thursday Massacre” on April 6 contained 32 babies, some of which were valuable “Red Dragon” and “Blood Albino” color varieties. (Photo by Chris Nettles, who has granted permission for this photo to be published and disseminated.)

During the Holy Thursday Massacre, FWC officers also killed 29 Reticulated pythons and five Burmese pythons owned by Chris Coffee. FWC considers those python species to be “Prohibited” under rules passed in 2021. Coffee was unable to rehome some of his snakes within the arbitrary 90-day time period allowed by FWC after the ban passed in 2021. After contacting FWC to ask for help, officers executed a constructive seizure on the snakes in February 2022 which forced Coffee to feed and care for the animals until FWC took final action, which did not occur until April 6, 2023 when the animals were killed by officers.

USARK FL maintains that none of the pythons in this case should have been killed because they were legally owned prior to the administrative rule change. As a matter of law, they should have been grandfathered without condition. USARK FL is currently in a lawsuit with FWC challenging validity and constitutionality of these rules and has asked for FWC to stop seizing and euthanizing captive animals until this legal challenge is resolved. Contrary to some media reports, the Reticulated python is not an invasive species in Florida. 

Above: The cause of death for Bill McAdam’s 10-year old female boa was a penetrating wound caused by a bolt gun charge, which passed entirely through the snake’s head and exited through the lower jaw. (Photo by Chris Nettles, who has granted permission for this photo to be published and disseminated.)

See video on the killing of Big Shirl the Boa and her subsequent necropsy of the USARK FL YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Gxkga_ZPas

Above: FWC officers misidentified McAdam’s pet Boa constrictor as a python and killed it. This 10-year old female boa was raised from a baby by McAdam and was pregnant at the time of her death at the hands of FWC officers. The officers tried to take the carcass of this snake along with those of Coffee’s pythons, but Coffee insisted that they leave it in the freezer at McAdam’s facility for necropsy. (Photos by Chris Coffee, who has granted permission for this photo to be published and disseminated.) 

Many have questioned FWC’s dispatching technique on these snakes. In the video of the incident recorded by Coffee, officers can be seen yanking snakes out of cages, administering a bolt charge to the head, and then leaving the snakes writhing on the floor or throwing them into trash cans. FWC’s own website describes a two-step euthanasia process for wild pythons. This process involves applying the bolt charge to the head, followed by the complete destruction of the brain by pithing. The officers in this case followed only one of two of those steps.


According to veterinarian Dr. Ivan Alfonso DVM, even the field methods FWC describes on its website were not adequate in this case. “Euthanasia guidelines provided by theAmerican Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) clearly distinguish between ‘in the field’ euthanasia methods versus pet euthanasia methods. These snakes were not wild. Even if they had been wild, using just the bolt gun was only one step in the euthanasia method. Being pets, these animals should have been afforded the pet euthanasia method which involves chemical immobilization or sedation and then chemical euthanasia. There was no urgency in this case. If actually necessary, this should have been conducted by a licensed veterinarian or properly-trained veterinary health professional,” said Alfonso. He added, “There is no excuse for using the bolt gun method on pet snakes or pets of any species. The AVMA lists bolt guns and pithing as a secondary method when nothing else is safe or possible on captive reptiles. This was not the case here.”

Dr. Alfonso referred us to page 92 of the AVMA Euthanasia Guidelines: https://www.avma.org/sites/default/files/2020-02/Guidelines-on-Euthanasia-2020.pdf

The value of the baby boas in the reptile hobby is estimated at potentially over $100,000. The litter of babies likely included rare color morphs known as “Red Dragon” and “Blood Albino,” some of which are known to sell for $5000 to $7500 each. Aside from just the value of this litter, the long-term value of the female boa as a breeder over the course of her lifetime must be considered. Regardless of the snake’s monetary value or the value of her offspring, owner Bill McAdam just misses his pet, Big Shirl. “It was heart wrenching,” said Bill McAdam in a media interview. “That’s one snake that had a name because she was special,” he added. 

Above: An FWC officer smiles as he surveys the scene after the killing of 34 pythons and a pregnant pet boa by FWC officers. (Photo by Chris Coffee, who has granted permission for this photo to be published and disseminated.)

Undeniable Facts Regarding the April 6 Killing of 35 Snakes

1. A Boa constrictor was misidentified and killed. This boa was completely legal to own in Florida as Boa constrictors are not on the FWC Prohibited Species list in Florida. The snake was 10-years-old and had been raised by the owner, Bill McAdam, since it was a baby. The boa was gravid (pregnant) with 32 fully-developed babies.

2. 29 reticulated pythons and 5 Burmese pythons were also killed. All appeared healthy. All snakes were in locked cages. All snakes were microchipped, registered, and on documented inventory with FWC as the owner was in full compliance with the Conditional Species Permit rules before that program was terminated by FWC for these species in 2021.

3. On February 7, 2022 (14 months prior to this incident), FWC visited Chris Coffee (owner of the 34 pythons that were killed) and cited him with several dozen counts for violations to the new Prohibited Species rules passed by FWC in 2021. During this February 2022 visit, FWC informed Coffee that he had to keep all of the snakes. He was not allowed to sell, rehome, or euthanize them.

4. On February 7, 2022, FWC executed a constructive seizure. This FWC-issued constructive seizure meant the agency seized the property (snakes) but the property was left in the control of the owner (Coffee). Coffee had to keep and maintain, with no other option, the animals until FWC took final action (which was not until 14 months later). Basically, a constructive seizure means that property has been officially seized by law enforcement but they will come back to take physical possession at a later date.

5. Chris Coffee fed, maintained, and humanely kept all of these pythons from February 2022 until April 6, 2023 (as ordered by FWC in February 2022). On April 6, FWC officers killed 34 of Coffee’s animals, many of which he hatched and raised, along with the misidentified boa constrictor.

6. 29 of the snakes killed were reticulated pythons. Reticulated pythons ARE NOT an invasive species in Florida and this has been misreported in many media articles.

7. These pythons were killed because FWC moved the species from Conditional Species to Prohibited Species. Licensed individuals who had been raising, breeding and selling (only to out-of-state buyers or other Florida Conditional Species Permit holders) for many years were not grandfathered. FWC did not allow snake breeders and sellers to keep any of the snakes, even as non-breeding pets. These Conditional Species owners had only 90 days to sell, euthanize, or rehome all of their animals. Coffee had sold most of his snakes within the 90 days but not all of them. When the Prohibited Species rules passed, some exhibitors and zoos were allowed to keep some animals now listed as Prohibited Species, but snake keepers and breeders were NOT allowed to be grandfathered.

8. The 34 pythons owned by Chris Coffee were being kept at a facility owned by Bill McAdam (owner of the killed boa constrictor). Coffee informed FWC that this is where the snakes were housed.

9. On April 6, the one-step process utilized was inhumane and unlawful. The officers failed to complete a two-step process but even this two-step process is intended only for emergency and “in the wild” purposes. This situation did not require the snakes to be killed in this manner, or at all.

10. The FWC officers did not follow the two-step process for humanely killing reptiles as stipulated by FWC that is even publicly posted on its own website. The officers only performed Step 1 and never completed the humane process by carrying out Step 2.

This protocol is posted at: https://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/nonnatives/python/humane-killing-methods/

11. The camera that filmed the killing of the snakes was not a hidden camera and the FWC officers were made aware that the camera was filming.

Video footage shot by Chris Coffee documenting the FWC massacre may be viewed on the USARK FL YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/BuimdwINSzk

(Please note that the location of this incident was initially incorrectly reported as Palm Beach County rather than Sunrise in Broward County.)

For background on this story, see original press release at: www.usarkfl.net/news

For additional photos or information on this topic, or to schedule an interview, please call or text Daniel Parker, Director of Media for USARK FL, at 863-441-5067 or email media@usarkfl.net. Also contact USARK FL Legal Advisor Curt Harbsmeier 863-640-7484 charbsmeier@hdlaw.com. Media outlets are given permission by Chris Nettles, and Chris Coffee to publish photos and video contained in this press release. 


  • Friday, April 21, 2023 1:26 PM | Dwanna Enloe
    OMG as my reptiles are my children I cannot imagine how this made the owner feel. I would be seeking legal retribution against these monsters. I'm so shocked that these supposed humans are allowed to run free and actually given jobs allowing them to deal with animals.
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  • Saturday, April 22, 2023 6:07 AM | Michael Grierson
    I've seen Chris coffee's footage, that guy in blue knew what he was doing. He noticed the labels and said nothing and then acted stupid when the other guy realised what had happened. I feel so sad for Chris coffee and those poor snakes.
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  • Saturday, April 22, 2023 6:38 PM | CAROLINE JONES
    I am from the UK and never seen anything like this, putting a bolt through these poor snakes heads how cruel and not needed, surely someone would have had these poor reptiles, FWC did not give the poor guy time to sort anything out, did not support or help him, it seems to me the more you try to do things right the worse you get....and if he could not find somewhere for these snakes....doing this??? They should be ashamed and fired pure cruelty, horrific, this has to stop and never happen again..FWC needs to take a good look at themselves make changes full stop!
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  • Wednesday, April 26, 2023 1:44 AM | Anonymous member
    Since I started watching YouTube for fun, I was immediately drawn to the channels about reptiles. I became such a fan. If I were younger, I'd go to NERD and buy an Asian Water Monitor. I've ALWAYS had pets! Cats, dogs,Emus, goats, parrots etc.
    During these 3 years ago and I've only become more enamored with reptiles. What I watched those monsters posing as human beings, murder those snakes I was stunned. I could not beleive something like this could happen in America! This was Draconian!! To see that badge wearing cretin standing there with that evil smile on his face... well..I had to rub my eyes and look again! He was happy! This creature works for a wild life agency and yet doesn't know the difference between a Boa and a Python!! How is that possible? How is it possible he found joy in murdering the very things he was sworn to protect??? He's no Game Warden, he's a murdering Bastard! Watching Those other 2 Bafoons pretending they were shocked at what they had just done to Big Shirl was nauseating! That was no accident! They knew what they were doing and who they were killing! And the guy exclaimed,
    "It was an accident man!" The sound of Chris's voice when he screamed "WHY?? I TOLD YOU 10 TIMES NOT TO TOUCH HER!!!" Oh my heart broke! I hope these ridiculous laws are revoked. I hope some type of punishment happens for those...I can't call them men. No man I know would have EVER taken part in something so barbaric! The men i know would rather be fired than murder sometimes precious pets! My thoughts, my prayers go out to all reptile owners. To Chris Coffee and the gentleman whose facility where this breach of Justice and humanity took place. God bless USARK and all the people around this worked who have been jolted by this horrific reality! I'm a true believer in The Law of Attraction. Those morons that committed these atrocities shall receive all that they have earned. What is given shall come back ten fold. I'm Jewish. The battle cry for all who were lost in the Holocaust were these two powerful words, "NEVER AGAIN"!...
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  • Thursday, April 27, 2023 9:19 AM | Angela Tackett
    I work alongside of several law enforcement agencies and none of them would ever have been so heartless as fwc was/is with this situation. I struggle with seeing the videos and pictures from this whole situation. I LOVE reptiles. I would rather be around them than people. I do not know florida laws but anyone with a heartbeat can see this was cruelty to animals in every way possible. So my question is, why have florida f&w allowed their own staff to break a law that they enforce? Also how many other times have they done this to someone's pets and got away with it? If it was someone else who done this they would have been prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Just because they wear a badge does not make them above the law. I wear one too but never would I treat an animal of any kind like this nor do I think am untouchable with the law of man. I hope florida f&w are held responsible to the fullest extent, from the commissioner down to the low life sorry excuse for humans that carried out this horrific act.
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    • Friday, May 05, 2023 6:22 AM | Ashley Dobbs
      It would help if someone ran wfc that actually understood what they were trying to regulate and ban.These people obviously don't know what they are doing.
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  • Sunday, April 30, 2023 1:31 AM | ERNEST DUFF
    As a reptile owner in Texas, I am both shocked and angered by the corrupt actions of these "officers". You have my support both vocally and monetarily. Now go raise some hell, and get these real estate developers out of Fish and Wildlife!
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  • Sunday, December 03, 2023 3:01 PM | Hank Calhoun
    Giving these so called officer's the right to kill- murder- euthanize, or whatever you want to call it, is the same as giving police officer's the right to do the same thing to you and I.
    These men should be arrested and charged with animal cruelty
    (34 counts)!!
    I cannot imagine what I would have done had I been in that situation! (LORD HELP THEM)
    They will eventually have to answer to these crimes against life to the One upstairs.
    I am flabbergasted that someone standing around and seeing what was going on did absolutely nothing?!
    Y'all should be ashamed
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