A restricted island in Massachusetts is planned to begin housing timber rattlesnakes and become a conservation area. However, residents are not happy with this proposal since they worry that snakes could become harmful for them.
According to Newsweek, the timber rattlesnake used to be found in abundance throughout New England, but now it’s extinct in Maine and Rhode Island, and considered endangered in several other eastern states, including Massachusetts.
Mount Zion is an island close to the city of Amherst in Massachusetts. There, scientists and conservationists from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife are looking forward to establishing a rattlesnake reserve to preserve the species.
But locals are against this proposal. Some people think it would become harmful to live in the area since the venomous reptiles are too close to where humans live.
“It is inevitable that someone is going to get bit,” said Mike Krunklevich to the Boston Herald. “The priority here is exotic wildlife and not the people — and that’s a shame. I’m fed up with this.”
The Division of Fisheries and Wildlife has a legal responsibility to protect the species. Besides, Mount Zion island is off-limits to people and rattlesnakes are rather shy and don’t bite unless feel threatened. They have not caused any human fatalities in decades.
For whom is it actually dangerous?
On the other hand, humans have actually been more harmful to rattlesnakes than rattlesnakes themselves.
Humans have killed millions of them to build towns and cities, and develop land, causing rattlesnake populations to heavily decrease and almost reach extinction.
There is nothing to worry about
Many people are also afraid that timber rattlesnakes will swim across the water down to the beach, but researchers say there is nothing to worry about.
Tom French, the current assistant director of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, explained that timber rattlesnakes can indeed swim, but they do not have a reason to cross the waters.
He also explained that each snake will have a tracker on it, so researchers would be able to locate them and quickly return them to the island. Although, it is more probable that rattlesnakes get eaten by hungry eagles before they can catch them.
Massachusetts officials plan to release about eight young snakes in the island in spring of 2017. They are currently being raised in the Roger Williams Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island.