There have been several reports of rattlesnakes from throughout the valley in yards and, unfortunately, lying dead on the highway.
“The problem is the snakes like the warm pavement so they take their time going across the road,” said Midway resident Guy Owens. “They just kind of stretch out there and absorb the heat. There’s been a lot more dead ones seen than live ones.” Rattlesnakes are a protected species and an important part of the ecosystem.
They prefer to avoid people. If you’re in rattlesnake territory, take precautions to stay away from them, and do not destroy them or their natural habitat.
If you do catch a rattlesnake unawares, give it space and let it go by as you stand still. Don’t try to scare away a rattlesnake because any sudden moves may be perceived as a threat.
Wear protective clothing, especially long pants and high boots, when you’re in snake territory.
Rattlesnakes bite if they’re surprised or cornered. Watch where you walk and what you pick up. A snake may look like a stick when it warms itself in the sun. Rattlesnakes may hide in long grasses or under rocks and logs. Don’t walk through long grass and don’t step over or move rocks or logs unless you’re sure there are no rattlesnakes around.
Oliver Fire Chief Dan Skaros gives public education sessions about rattlesnakes. A few years ago Skaros was bitten on the finger by only one fang of a baby rattler and he very nearly died.
Skaros is experienced in handling them; in fact the Worker’s Compensation Board taught him, hence he removes them from vineyards so workers don’t get bitten. Because they are a protected species he relocates them rather than killing them.
He was bitten when he was removing one from a rock wall. He was in Oliver Hospital in only 15 minutes, but by then his whole body was convulsing.
The anti-venom for a rattlesnake bite costs from $1,500 to $2,000 per vial, and the doctors gave Skaros 16 vials. They saved his life—but he lost his finger, which was amputated because it no longer worked.
According to Skaros, the Grand Forks Hospital does not stock the anti-venom. So he suggests caution and using a walking stick when out hiking.