Massachusetts is probably not the first state you think of when it comes to rattlesnakes, but Massachusetts officials are changing that today as a rattlesnake colony is on the drawing board for these venomous snakes. Plans to start this colony on an desolate island that sits in the largest inland body of water in the state is meeting with some concerns today. Folks have some worries despite this proposed snake island being “off limits” to the public.
The island is a hop, skip and a jump to the mainland down two narrow causeways. The possibility of the snakes squirming along the causeway to the mainland is worry enough, but these rattlers can also swim. This means access to the mainland is just too easy for the rattlesnakes, which is rattling the non-snake lovers in the area today.
Plans of a rattlesnake colony offers up visions of rattlesnake attacks to some who are against the snake island. These slithering serpents are not going to make good neighbors and some folks who live nearby the proposed snake island are not welcoming the idea, reports Fox News on February 22.
The Mount Zion Island that sits in the Quabbin Reservoir is where the snakes will grow and live and oh, yes…. multiply! Tom French of the state’s Division of Fisheries and Wildlife is directing the rattlesnake project, which will take place inside the 39-square mile Quabbin Reservoir area. He’s already fielded several phone calls and emails from worried residents in the state.
NPR News sets the stage saying “It sounds like the plot for a terrible horror movie, but the plan to build a rattlesnake colony on an abandoned island in the Quabbin Reservoir in central Massachusetts is real.” French will represent the state on Tuesday when this snake island will come up for discussion at a public meeting. The worries about snakes attacking are completely irrational fears that fester from an aversion to snakes that many people harbor, which is basically French’s take on the concerns.
French shared what he is hearing from the pubic: “People are afraid that we’re going to put snakes in a place of public use and that they are going to breed like rabbits and spread over the countryside and kill everybody.” While that might be a bit of an exaggeration, still people are frightened.
It is not an army of snakes taking over the land that puts the fear in folks, it’s that stray rattlesnake in the backyard that a toddler or small child might try to pickup. Or it could be that rattler that catches the attention of the four-legged family member that has folks worried. Concerns that pets will go investigating when hearing that very distinct sound of that rattle the snake makes with its tail are also on the minds of area residents.
These type of scenarios are more worrisome than an army of snakes taking over the land. Rattlesnakes are endangered in Massachusetts, which is a state indigenous to the slithering creatures. Loss of habitat and deaths caused by humans have left the rattlesnake population at about 200 in the Bay State. They live in “five scattered pockets” across the state that span from Boston to the Berkshires.
The plan is to breed and raise the rattlesnakes in Rhode Island at the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence. When big enough to survive on their own in the wild, the rattlesnakes will be placed on the 1,400 acre Mount Zion Island. From there they will start their own colony.
Along with the experts saying the snakes are more afraid of you than you are of them, the stats in Massachusetts don’t show a death from a rattlesnake bite since the colonial times. Since Mount Zion Island is already “off limits” to the public it is the perfect place to do this, suggests officials. French said, “We want one place where the impact of people is not part of the equation,” and he believes that the island in the Quabbin Reservoir is just that place.