4 arrested after fatal snake bite in court Monday

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) -- Four men arrested on misdemeanor wildlife charges in southeastern Tennessee after a man was fatally bitten by a poisonous snake he was handling have a Monday court hearing in Chattanooga.

They were arrested in an investigation of the Jan. 29 death of Wade Westbrook of East Ridge. Westbrook died in the Chattanooga suburb after he was bitten by a copperhead at his home.

Each is free on bond, charged with violating wildlife laws that govern native and imported snakes. No charges have been filed in Westbrook's death.

One of the four men, 38-year-old snake collector and dealer Chuck Hurd of Gate City, Va., faces multiple charges.

Tennessee law prohibits possessing any native species in a captive environment or transporting any species that poses a public safety issue.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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