With about a dozen rattlesnake sightings this summer, Land of the Yankee Fork State Park Manager Joni Hawley said going into work is starting to become scary.
“When they’re coiled up and looking at you it’s the worst,” she said.
Typically, Hawley said visitors to the state park only come across a few rattlesnakes every year. To have so many this summer is uncommon. But the snakes are showing up in the same places where they usually are spotted.
“They mostly see them on the trails and paved walkways,” Hawley said. “They just like to get out in the sunlight.”
Hawley said she doesn’t know what has caused the increase in snakes around the park.
Idaho State University Herpetologist Chuck Peterson said there could be multiple reasons rattlers are out more this summer. The most likely culprits are environmental factors and location, Peterson said. “I think a lot of this is location specific,” Peterson said, because Central Idaho experienced a long patch of hot, dry weather since early August. The snakes could be out sunning themselves or looking for water, the herpetologist theorized.
Both Hawley and Peterson said another possibility is rattlesnakes give live birth in August so the snakes people are seeing could be newborns. “If they look small for rattlesnakes, then that’s what they probably are,” Peterson said.
Even though she doesn’t know what brought them, Hawley said state park workers have what they need to deal with the snakes. If a visitor encounters a rattlesnake, it’s important to give it space and notify the state park office as soon as possible, Hawley said. Workers will safely remove the snake.