Lesser Amendment Calling for One Year Moratorium on “Rattlesnake Island” Plan Passes Senate

Sen. Eric P. Lesser’s amendment to the FY17 Budget calling for a one-year moratorium on the Baker Administration’s plan to raise venomous Timber Rattlesnakes in the Quabbin Reservoir passed the Massachusetts Senate this afternoon. “The people of Western and Central Massachusetts have justifiable concerns about breeding venomous snakes at the Quabbin Reservoir. I’m glad my colleagues joined me in recognizing the public safety concerns of this plan,” Sen. Lesser said.

“I look forward to continuing to ensure the Quabbin is protected, and that the community which knows this region best is properly engaged in decisions about its future.”

In addition to establishing a one-year moratorium, the amendment also calls for the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife to establish a working group by July 31, 2016 to examine the “Rattlesnake Island” plan and to submit its updated recommendations to the House and Senate Chairs of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture no later than December 31, 2016.

On May 10, Sen. Lesser joined the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture at an oversight hearing on the state’s plan to build a venomous Timber Rattlesnake colony on Mount Zion in the Quabbin Reservoir.

In late March, Sen. 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 in the Quabbin Reservoir, pending further legislative input.

The letter was 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.

The Quabbin Reservoir is the largest inland body of water in 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 fishing.