Monday, May 9, 2016

Massachusetts Wants to Create a Eastern Timber Rattlesnake Sanctuary

Massachusetts wants to Create a New Eastern Timber Rattlesnake island The world has some amazing islands. We have the explosive Bikini Island, which is still too radioactive for human habitation. Then there’ the Farallon Islands 25 miles off san Francisco. The Farallons served as a nuclear waste dump decades ago and now host giant, mutant sponges. Then there’s Rat Island, Goat Island, Deer Island, and the Canary Islands, not to mention Easter and Christmas Islands. Fiji Island gives us high priced water. The Pacific also has Pitcairn Island, refuge of Fletcher Christian and the other mutineers on Captain Bligh’s Bounty. Two more islands of mention are IIha de Queimada Grande, the home to snakes so poisonous that the Brazil Navy has ruled it off limits to humans, and Deer Island, the remote refuge of Yale’s Skull and Bones, who are not on Skull Island. Massachusetts thinks America needs a Eastern Rattlesnake Island. The Eastern Timber rattlesnake is on the endangered species list. It has disappeared from Maine and Rhode Island, except in a Rhode Island Zoo where baby rattlers are being bred for Massachusetts. Its numbers have been shrinking in Massachusetts to 200 in five populations. The Commonwealth’s Division of Fisheries and Wildlife has been clandestinely studying for two years a means to repopulate Massachusetts with poisonous snakes. The idea of spending money to restore rattlesnake populations explains why they planned in secret. They sprang their plan on the public a few months ago. The proposal is to introduce the Rhode Island vipers as a colony on Mt. Zion Island in Quabbin Reservoir in Western Massachusetts. Only Massachusetts can move the viper from the Garden of Eden to Mt. Zion. Where is Quabbln? It’s near Ware. Ware is where. There, I’ve wanted to say that for decades. Ware is the gateway to Quabbin and the teeming metropolis of Belchertown. The locals are unhappy. The not-so-brilliant bureaucrats figure the rattlers will remain isolated on an island, closed to humans. Three flaws exist with the proposal. First, the island is not an island; a causeway connects it to the mainland. The off-limits island has porta johns on it for the humans who are on/not on the island. Humans don’t always read No Trespassing signs while snakes don’t read at all. Second, rattlesnakes can, and will, swim to land for food and mating purposes. Once they’ve been to Ware and Belchertown, they won’t go back. Third, Quabbin periodically incurs a drought. Lower water levels will facilitate the trip to the mainland. The agency says the snakes will have GPS trackers and will be apprehended if they try to flee the Island, just like Patrick McGoohan as The Prisoner five decades ago. Quabbin is an artificial lake created in the 1930’s to supply water to Boston 90 miles east. The state has been successful in recent decades with populating Quabbin with breeding pairs of bald eagles. The eagles are salivating at their beaks. Rattlesnakes are a bald eagle delicacy. The snakes like to feast on white footed mice and eastern chip monks. Say goodbye to Chip and Dale, who will become munchies to crotalus horridus. Crotalus horridus, the scientific name for the eastern rattler seems to say it all. The phrase looks like “horrible creature.” Massachusetts wants the rattlesnake colonies to rival in significance and fame its earlier colonies of Pilgrims and Puritans. The Tea Party should support introducing Rhode Island vipers into Massachusetts because the Tea Party’s preferred flag is the famous 1775 Gadsden “DON’T TREAD ON ME” flag. The eastern timber rattler is the coiled snake on the flag. Don’t tread on an eastern timber rattlesnake. Many voters would prefer planting the snake colony 90 miles east in the Statehouse. Let the vipers mix with their cousins, the legislators. The Legislature will hold a public hearing at 11:00am tomorrow in nearby Athol (sometimes pronounced with a Boston accent as “Asshole”)

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