Massachusetts to Populate Island With Timber Rattlesnakes

Posted on February 25, 2016

The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) has announced plans to populate a lake island with Timber rattlesnakes in a conservation effort. MassWildlife says the Timber rattler is a "high conservation priority species."

To start with a small number of rattlesnakes will be place on Mount Zion, which is a large island closed to the public at the Quabbin Reservoir in central Massachusetts. MassWildlife says humans are the biggest threat to Timber rattlesnakes and the island location will provide a location in the state where the native snake species will be able to avoid humans.

An article in the Boston Herald says some citizens are rattled by the plan to put snakes on the island. Many residents are also in favor of the plan. Timber rattlesnakes have the potential to be dangerous but MassWildlife says "the reality is that there has been no public harm." MassWildlife also argues that the island is big enough that the snakes will "have little motivation" to swim away.

Juvenile snakes will be used to start the island population. They will be grown in captivity at the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, RI for two winters before being placed on the island.

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