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A FINE FOR KILLING SNAKE

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A man used a boat paddle to kill a poisonous snake that he says threatened a friend but was fined $50 for molesting and killing wildlife in a protected area.

David McDonald, 23, and Kellyn Barnes, 24, were among seven people on a rafting trip Sunday on the Chattahoochee River near Atlanta when Barnes nearly stepped on the copperhead on shore."The snake was the same grayish-green color as the ground so I didn't see him until he drew his head back like a cobra does when he's about to bite. He was inches away from my foot," she recalled. "I panicked and screamed."

McDonald then killed the reptile. A park ranger who was watching through binoculars issued the ticket.

"All I'd done was kill a poisonous snake, which could have bitten someone," McDonald said.

Beverly Summers of the U.S. attorney's office in Atlanta said the ranger was acting under a federal statute that bans killing any wildlife on national park land.