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Rattlesnakes Prompt Public Meeting For Concerned Residents In Winona

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- In "The Land of 10,000 Lakes," you can come across flora and fauna of every variety and species. Loons, walleye and deer, of course -- but slithering, venomous rattlesnakes?

This summer, they're making their presence known in Winona. Since late June, the city's police department has received about two calls a week from people reporting rattlesnakes. All of those calls came from the Wincrest area of the city, which is on top of the Garvin Heights bluff area.

"One of the things that people who live in the bluffs have are retaining walls with vegetation on it, and that can be a really attractive area," said Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Supervisor Jamie Edwards. "[Rattlesnakes] can cool off by being on the vegetation, but also heat up by being on the retaining wall."

The timber rattlesnake has been in southeastern Minnesota for decades. A bounty was created for them in the early 1900s, but because of declining populations, it was later repealed. Now, it is illegal to harm, harass, collect or kill rattlesnakes in the state because they are listed as protected animals with a "threatened" status.

"A lot of times people interpret a rattle as a threatening situation, and really it's just an alert," Edwards said.

Even though snakes are scary for some, they see humans as predators, not food. The species is secretive and not aggressive, so bites are typically the result of an untrained human deciding to touch or bug the rattlesnake.

"A lot of times, snakes will just pass through people's yards and they won't even notice them," Edwards said.

If you see a timber rattlesnake while you're out and about, the best thing to do is leave it alone and it will leave you alone.

On Monday, Winona police will host a public meeting to address concerns about the sightings. If you see a rattlesnake in your yard, you can call law enforcement and a trained handler will come out and relocate it.

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