Fears rattlesnake colony may escape and 'kill everybody'

The state of Massachusetts plans to release a colony of snakes on an empty island has led to public concern that the snakes may swim to the mainland

A plan to release a colony of rattlesnakes on an empty island in a Massachusetts reservoir has prompted fears the deadly snakes will “breed like rabbits” and “kill everybody.”

Only 200 of the endangered reptiles are left in the state, and there are concerns that loss of habitat and deaths caused by humans could cause the species to go extinct.

In order to prevent this, authorities plan to release a colony of the snakes on an island named Mount Zion in the Quabbin reservoir, the state’s largest body of water. 

Public concern comes from the fact that the rattlesnakes are able to swim, and the island is connected to the mainland by two causeways. 

Tom French of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, the director of the project, said he had received many concerned phone calls and emails.

“People are afraid that we’re going to put snakes in a place of public use and that they are going to breed like rabbits and spread over the countryside and kill everybody,” he told Fox News

Mr French said the concerns were unfounded and that rattlesnakes will not attack unless provoked. He claims there have been no rattlesnake bite incidents in his 32 years of working with the wildlife agency and that the last death from a rattlesnake bite was in colonial times. 

A number of the snakes will be raised in Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, Rhode Island, before being put on the island in about two years when they have matured enough to survive on their own.

He said that on Mount Zion, the rattlesnakes will be free from human interference and will have plenty of chipmunks and mice to eat.

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