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Experts discuss snake safety after serpent sightings in canyon

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Posted at 9:47 PM, Jun 12, 2014
and last updated 2014-06-12 23:47:04-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- There have been at least two rattlesnake sightings in Millcreek Canyon in recent days. So what should you do if you come across a rattlesnake? The venomous creatures are coming out of hiding as the weather warms up.

"I'm on the trails about 7 miles a day," said Tim Remkes , who led a volunteer group in Millcreek Canyon to help pull weeds along the trails Thursday evening.

While his troops have spotted snakes along the way, Remkes has had his fair share of close encounters too.

"He was coiled right underneath my foot,” he said. “I was coming up on a rock, went to go put my foot down. I heard him hiss and rattle, he was coiled up: a 4-foot rattler; I just held still and let him do his thing, calm down and slither away."

With rattlesnakes coming out of hibernation this time of year, it's not uncommon to see them slithering around.

"Most of the time they are just passing through, they're just migrating looking for food, looking for a mate," said Krissy Wilson with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. "The snake is more afraid of you than they are of them, and they will do everything they can to get away from you."

"If you do get bit, do not put any compound bandages, keep the person calm, which is hard to do, immobilize the wound area and then get to the closest hospital," said James Dix with Reptile Rescue Service.

Dix said it's not just people who should pay close attention, their pets can be vulnerable to snakes too.

"You do have to be careful with your dogs to,” he said. “If your dog hasn't been trained, it's called snake safe, training for dogs, then your dog has no idea that a snake is dangerous and can run up and bite the snake or the snake can bite the dog, which can be serious."

Reptile Rescue says in Utah it is against the law to kill a rattlesnake. It is a Class-B misdemeanor.

Dix also hosts an educational program called Snake Safe once a year for people with pets. It's held in August. If you're interested call him at 801-860-2497.

Related story: Reptile rescuer shares snake safety tips