Oliver Milman “Snake island: Massachusetts to establish colony of venomous rattlesnakes” http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/feb/23/snake-island-massachusetts-venomous-rattlesnakes-colony-mount-zion
米国マサチューセッツ州では、Quabbin Reservoirという人造湖*1のMount Zionという島に、同州で絶滅が危惧されているtimber rattlesnakeというガラガラヘビ*2の一種のコロニーを作ろうと計画している。湖岸の住民からは、蛇が貯水池を泳いで岸にやってきて人間や犬に噛み付くのではないかという懸念の声も出ている。
Hundreds of thousands of timber rattlesnakes once slithered across what was to be become Massachusetts prior to Europeans’ arrival in the region. But mass deforestation, combined with persecution of rattlesnakes which, along with hawks, bobcats and other animals, had bounties on their heads, saw their numbers crash.
There are just five populations of timber rattlesnakes, comprising perhaps 200 individuals, left in the state. Tom French, assistant director of the Massachusetts division of fisheries and wildlife, said it is “amazing” that any still exist, although pressures are mounting.
“People think we don’t have them here, but they’ve been around forever,” he said. “It’s not like we are introducing some exotic new species here. We are close to losing them. They are so isolated now that there’s no natural way for them to repopulate. They aren’t like birds that can fly somewhere else.”
But while French and his team have found public support for their efforts to bolster other endangered species, such as bald eagles, there has been some resistance to the idea of creating a snake island in the heart of the state. His office has been bombarded by calls from people concerned that hordes of snakes will invade their homes.
However, it appears that rattlesnakes currently have more reasons to be fearful. French said that hikers regularly decapitate snakes when they encounter them, despite the animals being protected. Car strikes and illegal wildlife captures also threaten the species. What’s more, there hasn’t been a fatal bite from a timber rattlesnake in Massachusetts since colonial times.
“The snakes can swim but if they got to the mainland they wouldn’t be a risk because they can’t hibernate anywhere there,” he said. “There’s a bald eagle nest nearby and those eagles would swoop down and eat them up in a heartbeat. Even if they have the motivation to go to the mainland, we will be tracking the snakes and can just pick any up that go rogue.