Timber rattlesnake conservation plan in Massachusetts sparks debate as some see official plans as a threat to humans. The conservation area encompasses an off-limits island in the Quabbin Reservoir.
The 1,400 acres Mount Zion island has been off-limits for the public for years. Now, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife proposes to convert it into the home of a timber rattlesnake colony. The plan is backed by Governor Charlie Baker who recognized the need for the snake species to be protected.
The timber rattlesnake is a species native to Massachusetts. Once widely spread, the snake species only counts approximately 200 specimens at the moment. According to Tom French working with the Fish and Wildlife Service in the state, the timber rattlesnake is in dire need of being protected. The venomous snakes are a cause of concern for state residents.
Nonetheless, according to French:
“They are afraid that when we put the snakes there, they will spread. That just won’t happen. That’s just not how this is going to work”.
Both the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife and state officials argue that the conservation plan doesn’t pose any threats to humans. There are very few cases of humans being bitten by the timber rattlesnake. Once on the Quabbin Reservoir island, the venomous snakes might indeed swim across to settlements. However, according to specialists, they wouldn’t have any incentive to leave the timber rattlesnake colony.
The venomous snake species is currently listed as endangered. Even so, residents in the area of the Mount Zion island have voiced their concerns about the snakes crossing through water or via the connecting road directly to their settlements.
As the timber rattlesnake conservation plan in Massachusetts sparks debate, an advisory committee is expected to discuss the issue on March 14th at the Quabbin visitors’ center. The timber rattlesnake colony is a necessary project to conserve the remaining population in the state.
Despite the concerns of residents living in the area of the Mount Zion island, the project page featuring on the MassWildlife site declares that these snakes would have little motivation to move from the island.
The sheer size of the conservation site should ensure sufficient space and optimal conditions for the timber rattlesnake population to grow. In addition, all the timber rattlesnakes which will be relocated to the island will wear radio transmitters during the first ten years of the long-term project.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia