BOSTON (WWLP) – Many western Massachusetts residents are actively against the proposal to bring venomous rattlesnakes to the Quabbin Reservoir, but scientists believe that opposition is based on fear and myths about snakes.
The Arizona-based “Advocates for Snake Preservation” is calling on Massachusetts lawmakers to move forward with the plan to place timber rattlesnakes on an island at the Quabbin Reservoir. Residents and legislators alike have voiced strong opposition, citing safety concerns.
Spencer State Senator Anne Gobi said the Quabbin isn’t a suitable home for these venomous snakes. “We have 5 places where the rattlesnakes are. Let’s work, and I believe that’s the greatest success story, to bring back the rattlesnakes where they currently are.”
The Arizona-based coalition is frustrated by Longmeadow State Senator Eric Lesser’s budget amendment to put a 1 year freeze on the rattlesnake project. The coalition wrote lawmakers saying:
Timber rattlesnakes have suffered the greatest decline of any native reptile in modern history…establishing new populations is critical to restore this American icon.
“Rattlesnake Island” supporters argue that opposition to the project is based solely on a fear of snakes. “Well, let’s face it. Nothing is more frightening to most of us than snakes and spiders, so I understand the concern,” said State Representative Paul Schmid, (D) Chairman of the Environment Committee.
The state is forming a Rattlesnake Working Group to figure out the best solution. Senator Gobi said she met with Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton on Tuesday about the project.