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Pennsylvania Timber Rattlesnake

Property Walks.jpgThe Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (FBC) considers the timber rattlesnake as one of the last remaining icons to wilderness habitat in Penn’s woods - yet this year the FBC is considering delisting this critical species,  we believe to placate to the drillers and gas pipeline industries.  Delaware Riverkeeper Network needs your help now to weigh in to the FBC to ask that the Commission continues to protect the timber rattlesnake as a “Candidate species” and if anything, add increased protections for this important snake rather than undermine the conservation work the Commission has conducted the last three decades to attempt to help this vulnerable animal.    

The updated 2015 Pennsylvania Wildlife Action Plan lists the timber rattlesnake as one of twenty two reptiles that are a “Species of Greatest Conservation Need”.  Since 1978, the timber rattlesnake has been listed as a “Candidate Species” in Pennsylvania due to its decline from habitat loss and hunting.  Since that time FBC has instituted some protections and measures to attempt to protect this ailing reptile that is a vital part of our Pennsylvania heritage. For example, when a pipeline company is constructing a new Right-of-Way (ROW) where snakes me reside, they are requested to have a biologist present to inspect the pipeline path and if they find a snake, move the timber rattlesnake out of the path of the bulldozers.  According to FBC, despite habitat destruction and illegal killing of this snake, the timber rattlesnake continues to hold on in 50 of 67 counties in the Commonwealth.  But as drilling and fracking wells are projected to increase along with over 46 proposed gas power plants throughout the state to fuel the gas frenzy and use up the gas glut, the price of gas increases, and hundreds of infrastructure and pipeline projects criss-cross the state to transport gas to foreign and new markets, the timber rattlesnake continues to be threatened by habitat loss and being a casualty to the fossil fuel industry.    

Despite these past and future threats for the snake to recover, the Fish and Boat Commission in the holiday season late last year quietly proposed to consider delisting the timber rattlesnake.  See the listing below   Delaware Riverkeeper Network and allies weighed in urging the Commission to not delist the timber rattlesnake and the FBC postponed the agenda item from its March 30 and 31st meeting but DRN understands that FBC will likely take up consideration of this delisting at their next meeting scheduled for July 11th and 12th in Harrisburg.  Please contact the FBC now - and your elected representatives -  and urge the Commission  to keep the current protections in place for the timber rattler and if anything strengthen the rules -  not undermine them to expedite the destructive work of the the drillers and pipeline industries.

Remember, a timber rattlesnake will never attack and perceives you as a predator rather than a prey (it’s afraid of you!). Re-treat calmly and allow the animal to continue its course or to seek cover. Timber rattlesnakes prey mostly on mice, voles, and chipmunks and in doing so help control animals that are perceived by humans to be pests.   


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