Timber rattlesnake by Richard Bonnett

Stand with Snakes and Science-based Conservation





Preserving biodiversity means protecting all native species, even those that might be considered unpopular.

The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MDFW) has a long history of using the best available science to inform conservation and preserve wildlife. However, controversy over proposed efforts to protect timber rattlesnakes has resulted in a pending amendment to the Massachusetts state budget that would hamper MDFW’s ability to make independent conservation decisions now and in the future. A diverse coalition of biologists and conservationists support timber rattlesnake conservation in Massachusetts and their introduction to Mount Zion Island in the Quabbin Reservoir. We need to demonstrate both public support for the rattlesnake project, and trust in the expertise of MDFW so that the Conference Committee (who will decide which amendments to keep) will remove this amendment. Let’s let science drive conservation; let’s stand with science.

There are many good reasons why this species should be preserved for future generations

Timber rattlesnakes are an important part of our natural and cultural history
Photo by Richard Bonnett
They have suffered the greatest decline of any native reptile in modern history
Photo by Richard Bonnett
There are currently less than 200 individuals in Massachusetts in five small, isolated populations
Photo by Harry Greene
Mount Zion Island is off-limits to the public, ensuring public safety while protecting the snakes from what is arguably the greatest threat to their survival
Photo by Harry Greene
The vegetation community and rock structure on this island is ideal timber rattlesnake habitat
Photo by Eric Nordberg
Timber rattlesnakes are among the most social reptiles
Photo by Richard Bonnett
Timber rattlesnakes care for their young
Photo by Harry Greene
Females retain close ties with relatives throughout their lives
Photo by Richard Bonnett
Rattlesnakes can have a greater impact on fluctuating prey populations than their mammalian or avian counterparts
Photo by Eric Nordberg

The Division of Fisheries and Wildlife should be given the opportunity to implement their plan.

timber rattlesnakes

Opposition, based on the usual fears and myths about snakes, has stalled the project. Senator Eric Lesser attached an amendment to the state budget that would put this project on hold for at least one year and require any future conservation efforts to be approved by the Massachusetts legislature. Typically, conservation decisions are made by MDFW; this amendment creates a precedent that could have far-reaching impacts on future conservation decisions in the Commonwealth. The bill is now in the hands of the Conference Committee who will decide which amendments to keep. We need to convince them to ditch this amendment, and let science drive conservation.

Timber rattlesnake photo by Richard Bonnett

Take a stand for snakes and science-based conservation. Urge the Massachusetts legislature to remove Senator Lesser’s amendment from the budget bill so MDFW can use their training and expertise to conserve timber rattlesnakes.





Spread the word: #StandWithScience and Timber Rattlesnake Conservation in Massachusetts!


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Thank you @VinnydeMacedo for supporting rattlesnake conservation in Massachusetts! #StandWithScience #SnakeHero 

Let Senator Vinny deMacedo know we appreciate his support for timber rattlesnake conservation in Massachusetts!

Thank you @senbrucetarr for supporting rattlesnake conservation in Massachusetts! #StandWithScience #SnakeHero 

Tell Senator Bruce Tarr thanks for supporting rattlesnake conservation in Massachusetts!

Thank you @senbrucetarr for supporting rattlesnake conservation in Massachusetts! #StandWithScience #SnakeHero 

Give the Governor some gratitude for standing up for snakes!

“This is an important step in the long-term preservation of a beautiful and valuable component of our rich natural heritage”
Matthew R. Burne, Vernal Pool Association
“We all bear the stewardship responsibility to care for our wildlife, even those less popular species”
Jennifer Carlino, Massachusetts Society of Municipal Conservation Professionals
“Thousands of people visit when snakes are active. We have never heard any complaints of rattlesnakes harming or threatening visitors”
Judy Lehrer Jacobs, Friends of the Blue Hills
“The proposed project is a vital step that must be taken to conserve this iconic animal, an animal that suffers from a bad image due to a huge amount of misinformation circulating among many members of the public”
Wendy Howes, Ware River Nature Club

Photographs by Richard Bonnett


Videos courtesy Polly Smith-Blackwell, PS Graphic Design. See more on our YouTube channel.


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