HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – The proposed island of poisonous snakes at the Quabbin Reservoir will not be happening.
Senator Anne Gobi announced that the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board voted to suspend the plan for a Timber Rattlesnake colony on Mt. Zion, but that doesn’t mean the great snake debate is over.
The Quabbin Reservoir is out, but Mt. Tom is still in. The search to find a breeding spot for a colony of venomous Timber Rattlesnakes continues. Scientifically speaking, Mt. Tom is the perfect terrain for a Timber Rattlesnake colony with its open rock faces and ledges, dense woods, and dens and caverns.
However, people have safety concerns. Home to beautiful vistas of the Pioneer Valley, Mt. Tom is a hiker and biker paradise visited by families and pets.
“We walk our dogs up there at least once a week. I’d be a little uncomfortable with it. I know they already live up there but to breed them and multiply them, there are a lot of people who walk up on the mountain and enjoy it and I think people would get nervous,” said Ron Mihalik of Holyoke.
The rattlesnakes review group is also still considering areas in Southern Berkshire County and the Blue Hills south of Boston. The Timber Rattlesnake is one of the most endangered species in Massachusetts with estimates of anywhere between 200 and 400 snakes across the state.
“Kind of dangerous. I bring my daughter along here for hikes. I’m afraid of snakes myself. I come along with friends and I’m just not a nature person but we have a lot of people come in here and it’s kind of scary to have snakes in our habitat right now,” said Ramon Fernandez of Springfield.
The state told 22News they will be talking with potential host communities over the next several months about their timeline. They say their goal is preserve the species with access to open space without jeopardizing public safety.