BENEZETTE — A special guest speaker will slither his way into Elk County this weekend, educating the public on ways to stay safe and aware during Elk season.
September and October are the prime months for mating season in Elk country, so the Winslow Hill area in Benezette receives many visitors and eager tourists this time of year.
Elk viewers hopefully won't encounter a snake, but just in case, they should be prepared for the possibility.
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Wildlife Conservation Officer William Crisp will be the guest speaker for a “Timber Rattlesnakes in PA” presentation Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in the Dents Run Elk Viewing Area/Winslow Hill in Benezette.
July through early September is mating season for the timber rattlesnake. Sightings are the most common in late summer due to mating activity.
Although snakes are perceived as scary creatures to many, the timber rattlesnake is nearing endangered status in Pennsylvania. It is also a rarely aggressive species that keeps to itself unless it feels threatened. The PFBC says it is “one of the remaining symbols of Pennsylvania's wilderness areas.”
The Timber Rattlesnake is considered a “species of immediate concern” and is protected under specific regulations, the PFBC's website says. In 2007, new regulations were enacted to increase the timber rattlesnake population.
Timber rattlers are either light yellow or black in color, and are known to rattle in response to the presence of large animals, such as elk and buffalo, to issue a warning, according to the PFBC website.
Although these snakes typically hide, people should never attempt to touch or capture a timber rattlesnake — they should retreat away from it calmly. Never walking barefoot and keeping your dog leashed are other tips the PFBC gives Elk County wanderers.
This presentation is part of the Pennsylvania Game Commission's 2018 free weekend events. A Children's Wildlife Crafts event also will be held Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Winslow Hill Viewing Area.