From: Gayle Goetzman-Stolpa
Jamie Edwards, Steve Winter, Ben Klinger and audience input provided an excellent program informing all in attendance about snakes and lizards of Minnesota. A booklet by that title, written by the Department of Natural Resources, was given to audience members at this well-attended meeting at Holzinger Lodge. Edwards, supervisor of the Whitewater Wildlife Management Area, explained that the timber rattlesnake has been a protected species in Minnesota since 1989. This area rattlesnake is mild-mannered and should be left alone, as it is not aggressive, and almost 50 percent of timber rattlesnake bites contain no venom.
During my childhood growing up on the family farm — now mostly Valley Oaks, sold to a developer by my dad’s second wife — I don’t recall seeing more than two rattlers a year. Family members remember various dead snakes in oat shocks, or killed by the hay-cutting sickle. Dick Gallien remembers when farmers and snake hunters harvested rattlers for the $1 a piece bounty.
For your peace of mind, our farm is located in Burns Valley, where no rattlers have yet been sighted. The Big Valley Ranch and Valley Oaks subdivision were once the 500-acre Goetzman family farm; during our 2014 Century Farm celebration and family reunion, Jim and Cathy Kreisel gave a presentation on their recent study of our farm bluffs. They recorded evidence of the Western fox snake, milk snake, and the common five-lined skink in the rock crevice den, located on Ole’ Baldy, which is the south-to-west facing bluff prairie above the oak forest, to the left as one enters Valley Oaks. The den area and all animals living there are protected by the Minnesota Land Trust.
Killing a timber rattlesnake is a crime and must be reported to law enforcement. Sighting a timber rattlesnake should also be reported for tracking purposes.
The general public needs to be educated about snakes so they may be appreciated instead of being feared. (Those with full-body tattoos must really love snakes to want to look like one!)
Again, thanks to all who presented a very informative public meeting, and a big thank you to the Kreisels for their comprehensive study of living flora and creatures on Ole’ Baldy above Valley Oaks and Big Valley Road.