Authorities are awaiting results of an autopsy report on the death of a man found with a backpack containing two state-protected rattlesnakes.
The Cochise County Sheriff’s Office said the body of Daniel Genaro, 57, was recovered after being spotted by the Border Patrol near Parker Canyon Lake in a remote area of the county in southeastern Arizona.
The two ridgenosed rattlesnakes in the backpack were dead when Genaro’s body was found Saturday, the Sierra Vista Herald reported.
The snake is the state reptile of Arizona.
The sheriff’s office will wait for an autopsy report expected in six to eight weeks before determining whether further investigation is needed, spokeswoman Carol Capas said.
Capas said Genaro’s family reported him missing Friday and he had a history of medical issues, but she could not offer any details.
Arizona Game and Fish Department spokesman Mark Hart said trade in the snakes is illegal, but his agency does learn of poaching cases.
“Suffice it to say, illegal trade in these animals is lucrative,” Hart said.
Russ Johnson, president of the Phoenix Herpetological Society, said ridgenosed rattlesnakes sought on the black market as pets but are only valuable if they’re alive.
“It’s a very coveted rattlesnake,” Johnson said. “People are always trying to poach them out here.”