TWRA cites snake-handling preacher for illegally keeping reptiles, seizes 50 snakes

LAFOLLETTE, Tenn. (AP) — An East Tennessee preacher who has appeared on national television demonstrating use of snake handling has been cited with possession of venomous snakes.

Media report 50 venomous snakes were seized at Andrew Hamblin’s church, Tabernacle Church of God in LaFollette (luh-FAH’-lut). The snakes were being taken to the Knoxville Zoo.

Hamblin, who has appeared on the National Geographic television show “Snake Salvation,” is scheduled in Campbell County General Sessions Court next week.

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officer Matthew Cameron says TWRA authorities from Knox and Campbell counties asked Hamblin at his home Thursday if he had venomous snakes at his church and he took them there.

He is charged with the misdemeanor of possessing Class 1 wildlife, a species inherently dangerous to humans.