Rattlesnake Sanctuary Planned for MA Island

FILE-- In this September 2013 handout file photograph from the Mass. Dept. of Conservation and Recreation, a dirt and stone road leads to Mount Zion Island, at rear, at the Quabbin Reservoir in Petersham, Massachusetts.  A plan by the state to start a colony of venomous timber rattlesnakes on the off-limits island in Massachusetts’ largest drinking water supply is under fire. (Clif Read/The Mass. Dept. of Conservation and Recreation via AP)

Snakes to be released on Mount Zion Island “for their protection”.   They’re venomous, they multiply, they swim.  

BOSTON GLOBE | by Nestor Ramos

NEW SALEM — The state’s plan to revive a native endangered species on a remote island sounds suspiciously like the opening scenes of a horror movie: Breed and raise 150 venomous timber rattlesnakes until they’re good and strong, then turn them loose on protected land in the middle of the Quabbin Reservoir.

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What could go wrong?

“Well, they swim,” said Peter Mallett, president of the Millers River Fishermen’s Association, who opposes the plan. The notion of 150 big wet snakes finding their way to shore and setting out for the neighboring hiking trails and homes has him wondering which population ought to qualify as endangered.

The state Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, where the plan was hatched, offered assurances that a small island full of rattlesnakes would pose no threat. Any that escape the island will die during the following winter, unable to make it back to their nest, said Tom French, assistant director of the department. And in reality, rattlesnakes are shy creatures who bite people only when threatened, he said.

Since the two species’ earliest encounters, terrified humans have been hacking the heads off of snakes. Some still do. French said the whole point of putting them on an island is to protect the snakes from people, not the other way around.

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Related news:   Brazil’s ‘Snake Island’… a place so filled with venomous serpents that it’s been called one of the “world’s deadliest islands.”


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