State looking at alternative sites for timber rattlesnakes

Mount Tom, portions of Berkshire County already have snake habitats

Timber Rattlesnake
Credit: Suljo/Thinkstock

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – The state is reviewing other areas to place a colony of timber rattlesnakes, which were originally proposed to live on an island in the Quabbin Reservoir.

22News spoke over the phone Thursday with Joseph Larson, Chairman of Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife, who said that they are not considering putting the snakes on other sites, they are simply reviewing other locations. Current snake habitats they are looking at include the Blue Hills south of Boston, areas of southern Berkshire County, and Mount Tom in Holyoke.

Continuing Coverage: Quabbin rattlesnake proposal

The original proposal was to put these snakes on Mount Zion; a 1,300 acre island in the middle of the Quabbin. The idea has since been met with a lot of pushback from residents who live nearby.

Larson said that has forced the board to review other sites where these snakes could go.

“We weren’t expecting to have the reaction that we’ve had from the public. So, we’re back to square one in providing the information that we probably should have in the beginning,” Larson said.

The review looks at the current habitat of these small populations, and their mortality rate. Experts say that as few as 200 timber rattlesnakes currently live in Massachusetts. Larson is hoping the review can be done in the next two months.

The next scheduled public hearing is in Belchertown on February 28.