Timber rattlesnakes are slowly disappearing across the country, and in many states they're nearing extinction. But in the mountains of Pennsylvania these fascinating rattlers have found a sanctuary, thanks in part to state laws that protect them as a "candidate species" at risk of becoming threatened or endangered.
Unfortunately the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, the agency responsible for looking after rare and vulnerable reptiles, proposes to remove this protective status without starting a conservation and monitoring program. That's like sending a patient hobbling out of a hospital with a pat on the back and "good luck."
These snakes deserve better. If they're to survive, they need protected habitat for essential behaviors such as basking in the sun, foraging for food and hibernating during cold winters. And because of the way they live -- in groups and sharing the same dens, year after year -- this haven is even more important.
Removing protections now will leave these snakes and their homes open to obliteration -- by oil and gas companies waiting to drill and by people who aim to kill the snakes based on the mistaken belief that they're a threat.
February 22, 2016 Action Alert ID# 340
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