Stop! Don’t kill that snake! Fort Bragg’s Directorate of Public Works has seen an increase in the number of unnecessary snake deaths on the installation.
Fort Bragg has over 25 different species of snakes on its 163,000 acres, and only four are venomous: cottonmouths, copperheads, pygmy rattlesnakes and timber rattlesnakes.
When encountering a snake, instead of attempting to engage with it, just stay away, said Brian Ball, wildlife biologist, endangered species branch, DPW.
“The vast majority of bites come when people try to capture or kill snakes,” he said.
Ball advised the community to stay at least six feet away from snakes if they are in the woods or forested area. It is also important to look where feet and hands are placed when in the woods. Snakes do not have ears, so they can’t hear if someone is talking loudly or making a lot of noise.
If there is a snake in a backyard, leave it alone and it will make its way out, Ball advised. The same tip holds true if there is a snake at a gas station or other public location on the installation.
However, those who are concerned can call Wilfredo Rivera, integrated pest management coordinator, Environment Compliance Branch at 907-2160 or Ball at 643-6700. They are experienced snake handlers and can relocate the reptiles to a safe location. Those who live in on-post housing can put in a DPW service order by calling 396-0321/0324 if there is a snake in their home.
Ball advised residents to keep their yards clean because snakes are attracted to boards and metal lying on the ground.
No matter where a snake is located, Ball said all members of the Fort Bragg community should follow his simple advice.
“You should never, ever touch a snake.”
Many people think they can tell if a snake is venomous using certain characteristics, but Ball said there really isn’t a good standard way to tell, so it is not worth the risk.
Although rare, snake bites do require a visit to the emergency room, according to Ball. If bitten, stay as calm as possible to try to keep the heart rate down because an elevated heart rate spreads the venom quicker. It is also important to keep the bite below the heart. Don’t try to cut or suck it out and don’t try to kill the snake to bring it in.
Snakes have lived on this installation long before it was the home of the Airborne and Special Operations, and they deserve respect. With a little common sense and understanding, the community and snakes can continue to operate in harmony.