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Crews working on Hwy 8 rescue rare western rattlesnake

Crews working on BC’s highways are probably used to finding torn up trees and logs or a few fish that need help getting back into the rivers after the November 2021 floods.

Well, earlier this month, crews working on Highway 8 between Merritt and Spences Bridge ran into an unexpected and a relatively rare western rattlesnake.

The snake was found about 14 kilometres east of Spences Bridge by an equipment operator.

BC’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure says the operator stopped immediately and notified the onsite Environmental Monitor.

The federally-protected snake was safely relocated to a safe zone away from the work site in appropriate habitat.

Western rattlesnakes are not a common sight here in British Columbia.

A small number of the snakes live in the dry valleys of the southern Interior but their populations have been suffering due to agricultural development and urban expansion.

Wild Safe BC states that less than five people a year are bitten by rattlesnakes in BC and rarely fatal if treated properly.

However, the province says, despite their shy and non-aggressive behaviour, an exaggerated reputation for danger has resulted in needless killing, drastically reducing some local populations.

Additionally, western rattlesnakes have low reproductive rates and many are intentionally killed by humans as well as being killed on roads.

So, these reptiles are on the BC's blue list which means they are of special concern with characteristics that make them sensitive or vulnerable to human activities and natural events.

They are not endangered or threatened but require special protection.

Wild Safe BC explains that, under the BC Wildlife Act and federal legislation, it is “illegal to harm, capture or kill a rattlesnake."

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