Boy, it was a great weekend to be at Lewis & Clark State Park! The water was perfect. The beach was outstanding. We all know it's the perfect destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. However, amidst the nice landscape, park officials have recently been made aware of a rattlesnake encounter at the beach area. That is a BIG no for me! I can't stand the slithery things! While snakes are a natural part of our environment, it's essential to be aware and prepared for any potential encounters, especially with the warmer temperatures upon us.

TSM Media Center
TSM Media Center

These reptiles typically prefer to avoid humans, but occasional encounters can occur. The key to a safe and enjoyable experience is knowing what to do if you come across a snake during your visit.

First, remember the phrase "See something, say something." If you spot a snake or notice any potential hazards in the park, promptly inform a park ranger or any other park staff. They are trained to handle such situations and will take the necessary steps to ensure everyone's safety.  The USDA reports most snake attacks between April and October when humans and snakes are most active outdoors. 25% of bites are "dry," meaning no venom was injected, but they still need medical attention. Rattlesnakes may roam day or night depending on weather and threats like wildfires. Nighttime strolling requires a flashlight.

Precautions can prevent rattlesnake bites:

  • Wear warm socks, hiking boots, and long pants. Never wander across the wilderness barefoot or in sandals.
  • Hike on well-traveled routes.
  • Snakes may hide in long grass, weeds, and underbrush.
  • Watch where you tread and avoid crevices.
  • Avoid dark areas and don't step or put your hands there.
  • Step up instead of over a fallen tree or large boulder if there's a snake on the other side.
  • Be careful climbing cliffs or gathering firewood.
  • Before sitting, check stumps or logs and shake sleeping bags.
  • Never move rocks or logs. Use gloves to roll a boulder or log toward you to let anything underneath escape.
  • Never grab "sticks" or "branches" when swimming. Rattlesnakes swim.
  • Avoid approaching unidentified snakes.
  • If you hear the warning rattle, leave and don't advance toward the snake.
  • Rattlesnakes may strike without rattling! Do not handle a newly slain snake—it can still inject venom.

Report Sightings:

If you see a snake in the park, report the sighting to park officials immediately. They can take appropriate measures to assess the situation and, if necessary, relocate the snake to a safer location.

It's important to remember that snakes are essential for a balanced ecosystem and help control populations of various small animals. When we respect their natural habitat and behave responsibly, we can coexist safely with these fascinating creatures. If you have any concerns or questions about snakes or wildlife in Lewis & Clark State Park, don't hesitate to contact the park at 701.859.3071. Park officials are more than happy to provide information, and guidance, and ensure your visit remains enjoyable and safe for everyone.

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