Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - 11

L

ast summer, The Wall Street Journal and other
news outlets reported an increase in venomous
snakebites in the Southeast, with some blaming
the preceding warm, wet winter. Some predicted
similar dangers for 2020.
Not so fast, says Chris Ogle, wildlife surveys
manager for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources
Agency in Morristown.
"I think it is more a coincidence and maybe more just
the reporting of it," he says. "We don't track numbers
like we would on the elk herd on North Cumberland,
but we do keep up with inventory and monitoring and
we haven't noticed any kind of major increase."
The Blue Ridge region is home to just two types of
venomous species: the timber rattlesnake and the more
common copperhead, which Ogle says are pretty evenly
distributed in the mountains of Tennessee, West Virginia and other Southeastern states. They prefer overgrown
fields, forests and rocky outcrops where they can hide
thanks to their camouflage coloring. Of the numerous
snakebites Ogle has experienced in the course of his career, none have been from venomous species, although
twice he came close when he got near a rocky area.
Most hikers encounter the reptiles on sunny trails, he
points out. "[Snakes] go there because they don't thermoregulate their own body temperatures. They're not

A Present
of the Past

C R E AT U R E F E AT U R E
like us. They have to use outside forces to warm up their
body heat to either be active or hunt or digest prey or if
they are pregnant."
Like most wild animals, snakes generally strike only if
threatened. And even a venomous one may inflict a "dry
bite" to save venom, which is costly for their bodies to
produce.
"They're not going to chase you down," Ogle says.
"The snake doesn't want to bite you. It wants to get
away. ... You're a giant compared to that snake. If a
giant picked you up, you'd probably do whatever you
could to get away from it."
All types of snakes benefit humans by eating mice,
rats and other pests, Ogle notes. The black king species
and others will even eat their venomous cousins because
the toxin doesn't bother them. "So they play a vital, important role in the environment."

The timber rattlesnake, like most wild animals,
strikes only when threatened.

B

oyhood home of Stonewall Jackson. The best musky fishing in the

state. Home to West Virginia's largest yard sale. 18 championship holes
designed by Arnold Palmer. The scariest paranormal tour in the region.
Destination for your next legendary get-away. It's Stonewall Country.

CREAT E L EG EN DA RY A DV EN T URES AT STO N EWA L LCO UN T RY.C O M

MAY/JUNE 2020

11


http://www.STONEWALLCOUNTRY.COM http://www.STONEWALLCOUNTRY.COM

Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020

Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - 3
Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - 4
Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - 5
Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - 6
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Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - Cover3
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Blue Ridge Country May/June 2020 - Cover4
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