It looks like they did. Not helpful.
But see update below.
A reptile specialist leading the search for a snake on the loose in Lake Hopatcong now says it is a green anaconda, not a boa constrictor, as officials had maintained.
Gerald Andrejcak told NJ.com that he was told by a local animal control officer to keep quiet about the true species to avoid raising public panic.
Andrejcak said in the past few weeks of searching, he saw the snake once, estimating it to be up to 16 feet long with a head the size of a human.
It’s not concrete that the snake actually exists. But there have been reports of dozens of sightings. Animal Control is serious about the animal. It’s also unclear how Andrejcak came to the conclusion it’s an anaconda. Even experts can be mistaken.
If such a large snake is on the loose, it can be a hazard especially to pets.
Hopatcong Animal Control Officer Dale Sloat confirmed that he asked Andrejcak to say the snake was a boa constrictor.
“I just asked him to say it was a boa,” Sloat said. “It wasn’t a lie. Anacondas are boas.”
Sloat said he made this request to Andrejcak because he didn’t want people to have visions of “an alligator-eating snake” in the lake, which he said has been seen in the on national news.
Quelling “mass panic” is a nobel goal but backfires in terms of trust. Officials should be clear about the situation, not try to minimize it.
The water here is colder than the snake’s usual habitat of South America. The snake could be an escapee (this is rather common for snakes) or was released deliberately when it became too large. Officials warn people not to try to catch it themselves.
For more, see here. Expert says Lake Hopatcong snake is an anaconda – New Jersey Herald.
UPDATE (30-Jul-2014) They looked and they did not find. I suspect there was nothing there to begin with.
State wildlife experts found no scientific or biological evidence that an exotic snake is in the area, state Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Larry Ragonese said. “There were no signs of droppings or skin,” he said.
Andrejcak repeated his claim that he knows what he saw. But even experts can be wrong. It’s a safe bet people will continue to “see” the snake whether it’s really there or not.