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Thursday, February 25, 2016


TIMBER RATTLER (Google photo)
TIMBER RATTLER (Google photo)
Thursday, 8:30 AM.  24 degrees F at both the ferry dock and on the back porch.  Wind NNW,  blustery and bitter.  The sky is clouding up, the sun rapidly being obscurrered.  The humidity is 75% and the barometer steady, currently at 30.19",
   I read the other day that the State of Massachussets has plans for establishing a timber rattlesnake preserve on Mt Zion, the largest island in the Quabin Reservior, the largest body of water in the state, which is 65 miles from Boston.  It claims this is necessary to ensure the survival of the reptilian species in the state.  The public is concerned that the snakes will escape the preserve (rattlesnakes can swim). They are also concerned that the state will close popular hiking trails when the snakes become abundant.  The state snake biologist says the fear of snakes is irrational, based on cultural bias.
   The thing about snakes is you don't know they are around until you or your dog steps on one or you put your hand on one while climbing rock ledges.  Oops!
   It is possible of course that the state has run short of snake oil, but with the political season upon us, there will soon be an abundance of that substance.   Having more of it would, I suppose, create opportunities for politicians and other snake oil salesmen, thereby lessening the unemployment problem.  It will also probably increase job opportunities for state employees willing to catch rattlesnakes.  It may also stimulate the antivennum industry, which I understand has been in a deep recession due to the current paucity of snake bites.
   Now, I don't see anything wrong with having some rattlesnakes in the wild.  Keeps mice, chipmunks, hunting dogs and hikers on their toes.  Same could be said of copperheads, which are also in short supply of late.
   However, I am quite aware of the "shortage" of alligators in southern swamps a few years ago.  Now that they are pretty much protected, there is of course an overabundance, leading to a scarcity of fish and unwary cats and dogs.  Same thing happened with previously waning populations of wolves, mountain lions  and bears; which is at least a factor in the present scarcity of deer in northern Wisconsin and elsewhere.  And citing statistics is no comfort at all for the the owners of the dog or small child that is threatened or harmed.
   Anyway, I see little difference between the venomous snake population and the other predator populations that have rebounded and become a nuisance or a menace.  Maybe I am wrong, and all of us need a little more enforced excitement in our lives.  Maybe terrorism is actually a good thing, psychologically speaking. Concentrates the mind, as they say.  Stimulates adrenaline production.
   At least the Wisconsin timber rattler that my grandfather killed with a garden hoe before it could strike my mother when she was a child provoked a lot of interesting stories over the years. In the course of fifty years of storytelling it grew from five feet in length to eight and more, until it finally stretched across the road.
   Anyway, as the Chinese say, "Be careful what you wish for, you may get it."

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