March 22, 2016

Massachusetts EPA Wants To Bring Rattlesnakes Onto Reservoir Land

FILE-- In this September 2013 handout file photograph from the Mass. Dept. of Conservation and Recreation, a dirt and stone road leads to Mount Zion Island, at rear, at the Quabbin Reservoir in Petersham, Massachusetts. A plan by the state to start a colony of venomous timber rattlesnakes on the off-limits island in MassachusettsÕ largest drinking water supply is under fire. 
(Clif Read/The Mass. Dept. of Conservation and Recreation via AP)

[From article]
The commonwealth wants to “reintroduce” poisonous rattlesnakes to Massachusetts — what could possibly go wrong?
Perhaps you’ve heard about this plan, to turn Mount Zion Island in the Quabbin Reservoir into a sanctuary for timber rattlers. The question is, why? First of all, plenty of venomous vipers continue to slither around the state, and not just in their natural habitat on Beacon Hill.
Second, this “island” is a peninsula, with a causeway to the mainland.
Not to worry, though, we are assured by the state’s hack-
infested Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA).
Mount Zion is large enough,” the state lectures us on its website, “that the snakes would have little motivation to leave.”

So now they’re experts on the “motivations” of serpents. But wait, there’s more.
“The snakes will have radio transmitters to provide MassWildlife with important information about rattlesnake behavior.”
That’s great, they’re giving them radios. My show is broadcast on at least three stations that reach the Quabbin. I can 
always use more listeners.
Who’s responsible for this crackpot scheme, you ask. Well, the guy whose name is on the website is Tom French, assistant director of MassWildlife. He makes $105,000 a year. His boss is George Peterson, the commissioner of Fisheries and Wildlife, a former GOP state rep making $129,000 a year.
[. . .]

Suppose you’re enjoying a walk through the woods on a fine summer afternoon. 
Suddenly you hear that unmistakable rattling sound coming from a pile of leaves. You look down and see the coiled serpent, its fangs out. What is the first word that comes to your mind?
Probably two — “Holy bleep!” But that’s the wrong answer, 
according to French’s posting on the EEA website. He describes the rattler as “fascinating” and, my favorite, “persecuted.”
Persecuted is not a word often used to describe poisonous snakes. Usually “persecuted”
refers to someone — customarily a mammal, with two legs — who is “subject to hostility … 
especially because of their race or political or religious beliefs.”
So are timber rattlers “persecuted” because of their political beliefs? What, are they holding a rally for Donald Trump? That’s a … fascinating question.
This persecution, by the way, started around the time of 
“European settlement.” In other words, the reptiles are victims. They deserve reparations.
[. . .]

The local fishermen dutifully trudge in to complain that after the first snake bite, and there will be one, the bureaucrats will close the entire reservoir. As 
always, though, the pencil pushers and the Sierra Club and the rest know better than the people who actually live there.
The opponents are getting 
nowhere because they’re trying to raise common-sense 
objections. As they should know, rational arguments no longer count when you’re confronting the government.
[. . .]
In 2007, a guy in Dracut was trimming weeds in his backyard when one of the mild, persecuted, fascinating rattlers suddenly struck. The viper’s victim spent two days in the hospital in 
And now the hacks want to breed more of these poisonous reptiles. Professional courtesy, I guess you could call it.

Carr: A snake oil scheme for serpents
Howie Carr
Sunday, March 20, 2016
Boston Herald

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