Senator Eric Lesser Submits Bipartisan Letter Requesting Freeze on Plan to Breed Rattlesnakes in the Quabbin Reservoir

Sen. Eric P. Lesser submitted a letter to Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton requesting a freeze in further plans to breed venomous rattlesnakes on Mount Zion Island in the Quabbin Reservoir, pending further legislative oversight. “Public safety is paramount to our communities, and the Commonwealth’s plan to breed venomous rattlesnakes in Quabbin Reservoir leaves a lot of unanswered questions,” Sen. Lesser said.

The letter is co-signed by Quabbin-area legislators, including Senator Anne M. Gobi (D-Spencer), Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture, and Representatives Thomas Petrolati (D-Ludlow) and Todd M. Smola (R-Warren), all of whom represent areas surrounding the Quabbin Reservoir.

In the letter, the legislators state:

“It is our hope that any action on the plan to introduce Timber Rattlesnakes to the Quabbin Reservoir will be frozen pending an oversight hearing by the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture on May 10, 2016.”

A copy of the letter was also sent to Gov. Charlie Baker, Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Leo Roy, and Division of Fisheries and Wildlife Director Jack Buckley. A full copy of the letter is attached below.

The plan to breed venomous Timber Rattlesnakes on Mount Zion Island was introduced by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, and has been met with concern from local residents.

A primary concern is that the introduction of the snakes could deter visitors from using the popular recreation area surrounding the reservoir, and that any snakebite-related incident could lead to the area’s closure.

The Quabbin Reservoir is the largest inland body of water in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and is one of the largest man-made public water supplies in the United States. The area surrounding the Reservoir serves as a popular recreational area that supports hiking, snowshoeing, hunting and shoreline fishing.