Copperhead sightings on the rise

Copperheads are usually spotted during the fall, but one wildlife remover said he has seen more this year than ever. (Source: George Hollen)
Copperheads are usually spotted during the fall, but one wildlife remover said he has seen more this year than ever. (Source: George Hollen)

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Kaiser the dog doesn't play as close to the fence anymore after a copperhead bit him on the nose.

His owner, Jessica Clark, said Kaiser was playing in the backyard when the snake got him. Now, she said she is extra vigilant watching him and her other dog, Ruby.

"If we aren't outside with them, we're definitely standing at our kitchen door watching," Clark said. "If they stand in one spot for too long, I automatically either get their attention and bring them in for a hot second and then let them out so that they get away from whatever it was. I can't always see, and I'm not one to investigate."

A few of Clark's neighbors and others in the area have spotted snakes in their yards too. According to a biologist with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, it's normal for copperheads, and other snakes, to be out this time of year.

"They have very specific purposes," Chris Kent said. "They're either in search of a mate or have just mated and are going back to a safe place, or are looking for food or are looking for shelter. They don't just wander the landscape, so when you see a snake, they're on a mission."

Kent said copperheads are common in our area because they can easily blend into leaves and trees in pine forests and mixed hardwood forests.

What isn't normal is the number of copperheads that have been found.

"There are more copperheads this year everywhere, not just in one place, but more copperheads everywhere than I've ever seen in my life, and I was born and raised here," Jimmy English, a wildlife remover, said.

He attributed this to development in the area, saying snakes are moving from areas where land has been cleared for construction.

According to Clark, there is construction on the other side of her fence, which could be why the copperhead was in her backyard.

She called English to remove not just the copperhead, but two other snakes in her yard.

It was the right choice, according to Kent.

"Don't kill them. The whole slogan, 'Every good snake is a dead snake,' I mean, snakes are so valuable in our ecosystem, and we really need to have them around to help control rodent populations and insect populations," Kent said. "They play a valuable role in the ecosystem, so don't kill them."

He said if you don't want snakes in your yard, clear wood piles and debris around your home. Those are safe places for snakes to hide.

Clark said she'll be staying away from her backyard.

"I really don't come back here since all of the snake sightings have happened," she said. "I just don't really venture out because I know they're here and I just don't really need to see them."

Find more tips on how to identify copperheads and other reptiles, and how to remove them on the Wildlife Commission's website.

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