Rattlesnake Alert 2022

Rattlesnake at Watson Lake (Photo by Tim Van Schmidt)

Tim Van Schmidt | North Forty News


I wrote an article about this last year, but the message bears repeating. I’m talking about being watchful for rattlesnakes when at area recreation areas.

Just recently, my wife and I took our grandson to one of our favorite places to go for outdoor fun — Watson Lake in Bellvue.

The Poudre River rushes past on one side, the big lake lies serenely on the other side, and an easy, paved trail runs right in between. Usually, at Watson, there is plenty to do: catch bugs, throw rocks in the river, watch birds on the lake or the eagles in the cliffs above, and enjoy both plenty of sunshine and shade.

But this time, we saw something harrowing on our walk. Someone had killed a rattlesnake and draped its body — minus the rattle — on one of the trash containers. OK, that one was dead.

But shortly after that, at the north end of the walkway, we came across a mother and two kids who had been hanging out on the rocks, fishing and playing. But things had gotten serious.

According to the mother, while her son was wading in the water with his fishing pole, a very large-sized rattlesnake came swimming across the river and made its way into the rocks just a few feet away from where they were standing.

By the time we got there, the snake was slowly sliding over the rocks, right where we would normally be clambering around. It was a big one — maybe five to six feet long — and looked like it could do some damage.

Other people came walking up and we warned them just as we warned others who were walking in that direction when we had seen enough.

That’s the proper thing to do — warn anyone you meet in the area. And let’s just say it — where there is one, there is probably more.

Recently the City of Fort Collins put out an informational card as a reminder to NOCO residents and visitors to “be snake awake”. That means, first of all, to be careful about where you are stepping. If you see a rattler, “remain still or slowly back away” to give it room to move on. If its tail is shaking, “it wants you to move away”.

If you are bitten, the card recommends that you move away, warn others, stay calm, call 911, remove constricting jewelry and clothing, and, if possible, “lie down and remain quiet”. If alone and don’t have a phone, then “walk, don’t run” to an emergency telephone in the parking lot of most natural areas since exertion spreads the venom faster.

The flip side of the City’s info card also warns about lightning danger. Since we’re talking about outdoor safety, let’s quote the 30-30 rule: “After seeing lightning, count the seconds until you hear thunder. If it’s less than 30 seconds, seek safety. If you can hear thunder, lightning is within striking range. Wait at least 30 seconds after the storm has passed before hiking”.

We enjoy our outdoor activities in Colorado. Stay safe so you can enjoy it for years to come!

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