Rattlesnake Review Working Group

A working group formed by the Fisheries and Wildlife Board to review and discuss statewide rattlesnake conservation needs and strategies.

Background

The Rattlesnake Review Working Group was formed to assist the Fisheries & Wildlife Board in soliciting public input and reviewing a proposal to re-establish a population of Timber Rattlesnakes to a site on Mount Zion Island in Quabbin Reservoir. The membership of the Review Group, operating under the purview of the state Fisheries and Wildlife Board, includes Quabbin area residents with ties to local municipalities and conservation organizations, local state legislators, the DFG and DCR Commissioners, and the Director of MassWildlife. A Science Advisory Group composed of scientists from UMass Amherst, Berkshire Community College, Roger Williams Zoo in Rhode Island, and the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife will assist the Review Group as needed.

In April 2017, after receiving input from the Working Group and completing a process to solicit public input, the Fisheries and Wildlife Board decided to suspend the Mount Zion rattlesnake proposal and to focus efforts on the conservation of the state’s five remaining Timber Rattlesnake populations.

Public Input Process and Response to Comments

The comment period remained open from February 15 to April 14, 2017, to provide citizens who may not have had an opportunity to attend the informational meeting held February 23, 2017, in Orange; the Legislative Oversight Hearing held May 10, 2017, in Athol; or the Board-sponsored public Working Group meetings held on January 30 in Athol, on February 28 in Belchertown, and on March 22 in Ware to share their comments with the Fisheries and Wildlife Board. Questionnaires were handed out at each meeting to solicit questions or concerns from the public about the proposed project.  For individuals who could not attend the meetings, MassWildlife developed a platform on its website for comments to be submitted.

MassWildlife appreciates the many comments received and provides a response to comments here.

Rattlesnake Review Working Group Members

  • Chair: Dr. Joseph Larson, Chairman Fisheries and Wildlife Board; Member Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Advisory Committee; Professor Emeritus, Environmental Conservation-UMass Amherst, Quabbin area resident
  • George Peterson, Commissioner, Dept of Fish and Game (or designee)
  • Leo Roy, Commissioner, Dept of Conservation and Recreation (or designee)
  • Jack Buckley, Director, MassWildlife (or designee)
  • Anne Gobi, State Senator, Spencer (or designee)
  • Eric Lesser, State Senator, 1st Hampden and Hampshire (or designee)
  • Susannah Whipps, State Representative, 2nd Franklin (or designee)
  • Dan Hammock, Quabbin Fishermen’s Association
  • Tony Brighenti, N. Quabbin Fishermen’s Association; Quabbin Watershed Advisory Committee (QWAC)
  • Nancy Talbot, Selectperson and Town Clerk, Ware
  • Bill Barnett, Selectperson, Belchertown
  • David Small, Athol Bird and Nature Club
  • Dr. Alan Richmond, Dept of Biology, UMass Amherst
  • Dr. Mike Jones, State Herpetologist, MassWildlife

Science Advisory Group

  • Dr. Tom French. Assistant Director, MassWildlife's Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program
  • Lou Perrotti, Conservation Director, Roger William Zoo; head-starting project snakes
  • Tom Tyning, Professor, Berkshire Community College
  • Anne Stengle, PhD Candidate, University of Massachusetts Amherst

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