The Timber Rattlesnake, a Massachusetts State Endangered Species, has experienced the greatest modern decline of any native reptile, and humans are considered the greatest threat to them. While killing or disturbing this snake is a serious criminal offense, these acts, combined with road mortality, continue to be major factors that contribute to the rattlesnake’s imperiled status.
Additionally, since 2006, scientists have found Timber Rattlesnakes with a sometimes fatal fungal skin disease. This emerging disease has now been documented in over a dozen species of snakes and is a new threat to them across their range. There is growing reason to fear that this fungal skin disease is a newly emerging threat to the imperiled populations.
Rattlesnakes are a high conservation priority species for the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, and in 2013, was successful in obtaining a $500,000 grant for the endangered species that will continue through 2016. The award will fund studies of this new disease as well as conservation management actions designed to enhance snake survival and increase the viability of imperiled snake populations.
The Division is proposing to establish a small number of them on Mount Zion, a large island closed to the public at the Quabbin Reservoir in central Massachusetts. While rattlesnakes are perfectly good swimmers, this island is large enough that they would have little motivation to swim away. “This proposal has evolved out of the need to have at least one location in Massachusetts where this native endangered species will avoid people.” said Tom French, MassWildlife’s Assistant Director of Natural Heritage and Endangered Species (NHES).
“As the agency with the legal mandate, responsibility and expertise to conserve both rare and common wildlife, the Division is striving to ensure this imperiled and fascinating snake does not finally disappear almost 400 years after European settlement.”
Snakes used for this project will be offspring of Massachusetts snakes. They will be headstarted in captivity for two winters allowing them to grow large enough so that they will have the best chance of surviving to adulthood.
French says that most modern bites occur as the result of irresponsible (and illegal) activities that involve handling or harassing the animals. The latest antivenin treatments have greatly reduced the danger even if a person is bitten.
Fish & Wildlife officials have stated that funding for the project will come from the above grant and NHES funds, and not from hunting and fishing license fees.*****
The Berkshire Environmental Action Committee (BEAT) has formed a new monthly Wildlife Tracking Club in Berkshire County. This group will meet twice monthly, the 1st Wednesday and the 3rd Saturday from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon. Hikes will be led by local wildlife trackers, birders, and naturalists, of which there is an impressive group in Berkshire County. The club is open to the public and tracking events will occur in Berkshire County. There will be an annual membership fee of $15.00. One-time participants can attend an individual event for $5.00.
It is claimed that Western Massachusetts is part of a larger fabric of forests that constitute the healthiest and most intact broadleaf deciduous biome in the world. It is a globally impressive system unrivaled in size or importance. The focus of the events will be the iconic wildlife of New England that call our region home, including Black Bear, Moose, Bobcat, Beaver.and other critters. Contact Elia Del Molino if you are interested in joining the club: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Incidentally, BEAT seeks to work with the public to protect the environment in the Berkshires and beyond. BEAT educates citizens about the environment and their role in protecting it, keeps the public informed of current local issues that could have an impact on the environment, and helps people work together to take action to protect the environment. *****
On Friday evening, March 11, the Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited will be hosting an International Fly Fishing Film Festival at the Wahconah Country Club, 20 Orchard Road, Dalton. Featured will be the best fly-fishing film shorts selected for 2016. With backdrops ranging from Bolivia to Saskatchewan, Montana to Virginia, Patagonia to the Seychelles, these films feature fresh, dynamic stories amongst some of the best fishing footage that has ever been shot.
From the hunt for the world’s largest brook trout to the pursuit of billfish on the fly, gargantuan pike, acrobatic golden dorado and herculean British Columbian steelhead, these films showcase remarkable places, larger than life characters and fish that will haunt your dreams.
Doors open at 6pm and the film will be shown at 6:30pm. The cost is $16.82 per ticket on- line or $19 at the door. All attendees will receive a free copy of Stonefly Magazine. There will be a 50/50 raffle and a handmade 9’, 4wt fly rod will be given out as a door prize. Orvis rods and reels will be auctioned. Tickets can be obtained by calling Bill Travis 413-447-9720 or by contacting any Taconic TU Chapter Board member. On- line tickets can be obtained by going to https://www.eventbright.com/20280747261. *****
Avid Sports will be holding a Firearms Safety Course on Wednesday March 16 at 5pm at Avid Sports on West Housatonic Street, Pittsfield. This course allows you to apply for a pistol permit or F.I.D. card. Call 413-997-3600 for details.
The Lenox Sportsmen’s Club Ham Shoots begin today and run for the next four Sundays. Tickets go on sale at 12:30pm and shooting begins at 1:00pm. $3.00 per shot, 22 cal Shoots and Pie Shoots.
The Lee Sportsmen’s Association Turkey Shoots take place on March 6, 13 and 20, all running from 12:30 – 3pm. $2 per round and winners take a choice of turkey, steak, spiral ham or pork loin. Also, there will be a Money Shoot for $3 a round.