“Rattlesnake Island” working group holds first meeting in Athol

Group heard the concerns of residents around Quabbin Reservoir

Timber Rattlesnake
Credit: Suljo/Thinkstock

BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) – After several months of delay, a working group finally met for the first time Monday night about the “Rattlesnake Island” proposal. The state is trying to strike a balance between preserving these endangered rattlesnakes and protecting public safety.

Governor Charlie Baker’s administration promised months ago that a working group would be formed to address residents’ concerns before timber rattlesnakes were placed on an island at the Quabbin Reservoir. The 13-member working group met at Athol Town Hall on Monday.

Some Quabbin neighbors are worried that these venomous rattlesnakes could swim off the island and potentially bite people.

Athol State Representative Susannah Whipps Lee told 22News before the meeting that she was looking forward to hearing from both wildlife experts and residents; “I think it’s very important that we’re meeting. I do think it took too long to get the working group up and running, but I’m very happy that we’re going to be meeting tonight and that we’re going to begin talking about this.”

The working group’s goal is to preserve the endangered reptiles, while also addressing public safety concerns. According to Chief of Information and Education Marion Larson, “They will be looking at the entire rattle snake conservation plan because of the critical endangered status that they have here in the state.”

Larson said the group will gather input from Quabbin area residents and address additional scientific information that may not have been considered.

Continuing Coverage: Quabbin Rattlesnakes