Sen. Eric P. Lesser Files Bipartisan Legislation Calling for One Year Moratorium on “Rattlesnake Island” Plan

Sen. Eric P. Lesser has filed an 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, or in any other area of the Commonwealth where Timber Rattlesnakes are not presently documented. 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.

“There are significant concerns about the public safety aspects of this plan and its effect on public access to the Quabbin Reservoir. A one-year moratorium, along with the creation of a working group that solicits input from local community members, is both necessary and prudent given the many unanswered questions that local residents have about this proposal,” Sen. Lesser said.

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.

During that hearing, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton apologized for the agency’s lack of public engagement and announced a working group that would study the impact and make an unbiased recommendation to the Baker Administration. Sen. Lesser’s Amendment will codify that commitment into law.

In late March, Sen. Lesser submitted a letter to Secretary 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.