Most people who happen upon a snake stay a safe distance away. Either they walk around it, giving it a wide berth, or they abandon their course and go a different direction entirely. We know snakes are an essential part of our ecosystem and many are not poisonous, but for most of us there is a little nagging innate fear of snakes that keeps us from getting too close. Which, of course, it a completely healthy response to a snake given that it is sometimes difficult to determine if the species is poisonous and it is generally a good idea to leave wildlife alone.
Sometimes that doesn’t happen.
A group of Bridging The Gap volunteers were working tirelessly to pick up litter from in and around a stream during one of our many workdays. The day began the same as any other workday. Before the volunteers got to work, they received a short presentation on the importance of healthy watersheds, how we all live in a watershed, and the dangers of litter to wildlife.
The team of volunteers then set out to remove the litter. Trash was picked up, friendships were formed, and it was a good day to be outside. Then, one volunteer approached the onsite Bridging The Gap staff person, Noelle Morris, with something in his hands.
Noelle was shocked to see he was holding a snake!
Her first response was to tell him to put it down. We discourage our volunteers from interfering with wildlife, but certainly they shouldn’t be handling a snake from a waterway.
Then he showed her the reason he brought it to her. Plastic netting wrapped around the snake so tight it wouldn’t be able to digest food and likely die without intervention. The group knew they had to do something.
Noelle searched for anything that would free this snake from its death trap. She remembered she had a pair of scissors in the glove compartment of her car, so she hurried to retrieve them while the volunteer continued holding the snake.
With the scissors, they carefully cut the snake out of the plastic. After removing the last bit of material, the volunteer made his way down to the water to release the snake. Noelle and the rest of the volunteers looked on from the bridge content in knowing they did what they could to reverse the damage done.
As the snake swam away, the volunteers chanted, “We saved a snake!”
The entire experience brought to the life the presentation at the beginning of the workday. Seeing the devastating impact of litter first hand is something none of those volunteers will likely forget anytime soon.
We always need volunteers! Check out our upcoming volunteer opportunities to sign up or for more information.
A grant through Johnson County Water Services funded this workday.