Locals will sound off on plan to create island snake colony

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Sunday, May 8, 2016

ATHOL, MA -- Residents in a Massachusetts town near Quabbin Reservoir Island will have the opportunity to sound off on the state's plan to create a refuge for endangered rattlesnakes on the uninhabited island.

A legislative committee scheduled a public hearing in Athol for Tuesday on the controversial proposal.

Critics fears the venomous timber rattlesnakes could swim off the island and attack hikers or hunters in surrounding woods.

State officials, including Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, have insisted such concerns are unfounded. They defend the plan as necessary to protect the snakes from possible extinction in Massachusetts.

Baker acknowledged, however, that the state could have done a better job of explaining the plan to residents.

The hearing by the Committee on Natural Resources and Agriculture at Athol Town Hall is scheduled for 11 a.m.