July 22, 2015 6:33 pm
Updated: July 22, 2015 9:49 pm

Number of snakes killed on roadways has doubled in Lethbridge


WATCH ABOVE: Depending on where you live, seeing a snake in Lethbridge isn’t very rare. But many of the protected serpents are dying on Lethbridge roads. As Quinn Campbell reports, they may be scary for some, but they play an important role in our ecosystem and need to be protected.

LETHBRIDGE- Snakes are a part of our landscape, and they play a key role in our ecosystem, but they are dying at an alarming rate – largely due to humans.

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Ryan Heavy Head is a consultant for the City of Lethbridge, spending his days relocating snakes in the city. He says far too many are dying.

“The number of snake deaths on the (Lethbridge) roads since 2007 has been four per season.  This year, we have already had eight deaths that we know of on the roads, so that is double the average.”

It’s still early in the season, with a few months left before the large snake population makes its way back to dens for winter.

“There is probably in the range of 300 to 400 rattlesnakes in Lethbridge,” Heavy Head said.

This year already, he has had a record-breaking day for calls, with seven snakes being relocated. He believes a big reason for the spike in spotting the serpents is due to the city’s growth.

“There is a lot of development going on in the Canyon Estates and Sunridge area.  Up until just last year it was a main hunting grounds of a rather large snake population.”

When they make the journey for hibernation, some encounter roadways. Heavy Head feels more signage would let drivers know when they are in a snake area.

Ken Moore is a naturalist who specializes in snakes. He says high-traffic snake population areas should have signs to give drivers every opportunity to miss the snakes.

“It would be really nice if we had those signs, particularly in west Lethbridge where the rattlesnake population is highest.”

Sometimes they can’t be avoided on the roads, but if someone is found guilty of intentionally killing a snake, on a roadway or otherwise, Moore says the punishment can be hefty.

“If you happen to kill a snake willfully, then it can be up to $50,000 for a first offence, and / or one year in prison.”

© 2015 Shaw Media

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