Fishkill Ridge
Community Heritage

Background on The Snake Issue


Photo of Cemetery from Osborner Hill Rd. After hearing much talk over many years about the importance of protecting the threatened Eastern Timber Rattlesnake, (Crotalus Horridus), we were amazed to discover how little has actually been done. As near as we can tell, no serious attempt has been made to collect even anecdotal references to sightings of or encounters with this snake.
Until a few weeks ago, FRCH assumed someone else was documenting the presence of local rattlesnakes. As soon as we discovered that wasn’t happening, we set out on our own to locate people who had seen rattlesnakes in the Fishkill Ridge / Wiccopee Pass area, particularly in or near the Thalle Mine.

We’ve located several people just in the last few weeks who said they have seen rattlesnakes, but who declined to say so in a sworn statement. However, I’m pleased to report, as of October 18th we have sworn statements regarding the finding of a rattlesnake approximately ½ mile to the north and on the same side of Route 9 as Thalle Mine.

You Can Help! Stories are Safer (and warmer during the cold winter months):
If you have seen a rattlesnake in this area or know of anyone who has who would be willing to talk to us, let us know! It is possible to prove the positive case that rattlesnakes do exist on or around the Thalle Mine property, which is within the two and a half mile habitat range of two known rattlesnake dens.

All information is helpful, no matter how long ago the snake was sighted or when the incident (including snakebite) took place. The leads we get from stories you collect of local rattlesnake sightings will be a big help. From them we’ll get some idea of the distribution of the rattlesnake. Stories you get from your parents and grandparents will help us understand more about past rattlesnake distribution. The stories will also help our experts know better where to look.

As the weather becomes colder the rattlesnakes will go to and remain in their dens to hibernate through the winter. They will emerge again in the warm spring weather to bask on the rocks in the sun. Winter will be a great time to collect information about sightings. Collecting the stories promises to be interesting and it could be fun.

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A Word of Caution

Do not handle rattlesnakes, alive or dead. There are two main reasons for this:
1. Rattlesnakes are poisonous. Even dead rattlesnakes are dangerous. A scratch from the fang of a dead rattlesnake may cause serious poisoning.
2. It is illegal to possess or handle a rattlesnake or any other threatened or endangered species, alive or dead, unless you have a special permit to do so.

If You Find a Rattlesnake
1. Do not disturb it. Move slowly away from it. Leave the area. Note its location and inform us as quickly as possible and we’ll attempt to get an expert to the scene. If you are bitten, seek immediate medical attention.
2. If it’s dead, do not touch it. If you can, photograph it where it lies. Note the location and contact us as quickly as possible. We’ll attempt to dispatch an expert for positive identification.