Rattlesnake Island opponents delivered petition to State House

Governor Baker says he is standing by proposal

Credit: NajaShots/Thinkstock

BOSTON (WWLP) – Western Massachusetts residents are fighting back against a proposal to make a home for venomous rattlesnakes in the Quabbin Reservoir.

People that live near the Quabbin told 22News they don’t want rattlesnakes in their backyard, and they’re doing everything they can to stop the project.

Amy Rubin, who owns property near the Quabbin, said, “I think that it’s a shame that people who are going to be entering the Quabbin, now have to worry that their lives are potentially at stake.”

Opponents of the so-called “Rattlesnake Island” proposal delivered more than 2,000 petition signatures at the State House on Tuesday, urging the Baker administration to suspend its plan to put a colony of rattlesnakes on a Quabbin Reservoir island.

Ware resident Debbie Gratton said her family is worried because rattlesnake venom can kill; “They’re afraid of getting a bite from one of these snakes, and you know, being injured or even dying. There’s no medical facilities close by.”

Governor Charlie Baker told 22News after his Monday leadership meeting that he stands by the proposal because the timber rattlesnake is endangered in Massachusetts; “I do believe that it’s important that we stand up for endangered species.”

Many western Massachusetts residents have criticized the Baker administration for not including the community in the process. Warren State Representative Todd Smola believes that people’s concerns should be heard before the project moves forward.

“People in the territory have brought legitimate concerns,” said Rep. Smola. “I’ve heard from many of them on a daily basis, and their voices are just as important in the process.”

There’s a legislative hearing on the rattlesnake proposal at Athol Town Hall scheduled for Tuesday, May 10th at 11:00 a.m. The hearing is open to the public and 22News will be there.

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