A photo posted to Facebook showing a battered, dead snake has raised concerns in the community, including from the City of Lethbridge’s rattlesnake removal consultant.
"I don't like to see an animal killed for no reason," said Ryan Heavy Head, running his fingers down the snake’s carcass during an interview with Global News.
The snake had its head crushed, rattler removed, and was left hanging on a fence in Popson Park.
Heavy Head responds to all reports of snakes and has a database of photos of at least 60 snakes he’s picked up from roads and residential areas near the city.
He says the fear of rattlesnakes is hugely exaggerated culturally and may be the motivation behind the killing of this snake.
“As long as you don’t step on a snake, they’re not gonna bite you….lots of people live here their entire lives and never even see one because the snake wants nothing to do with them.”
Heavy Head isn’t the only person concerned about the dead snake. Many of the 150 comments from people reacting to the photo on social media included messages of compassion.
Heavy Head explains the snakes were here first.
“If you live in Lethbridge and you’re visiting the coulees, you’re in snake territory. When you enter the coulees, you need to turn on your snake awareness and know, ‘Oh, I’m in rattlesnake territory, I need to watch where I’m walking.'”
Alberta Fish and Wildlife spokesperson Brendan Cox says it is illegal to kill, possess, buy or sell rattlesnakes in Alberta.
“Under Alberta’s wildlife act, the maximum penalty could be a fine of up to $50,000, or one year in prison.”
Cox also told Global News that prairie rattlers are protected in Alberta.
Heavy Head encourages people to reconsider their fear of rattlesnakes and compare that fear to more serious, but less intimidating dangers.
“More people out there are injured falling off ladders, eating peanut butter… but we’re not out there assaulting those things.”
Fish and Wildlife encourages anyone who sees someone interfering with a snake to call 1-800-642-3800.
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