Utah wildlife officials warn of higher presence of rattlesnakes this summer

Jun 8, 2018, 2:04 PM | Updated: Jun 9, 2018, 12:56 am

SANDY, Utah – Wildlife officials are cautioning that rattlesnakes will be a more visible presence this summer, and experts warn that can present an added danger to pets.

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources biologists say drought conditions have thinned the rodent population, forcing rattlers to “roam” more and increasing the likelihood people and their pets will encounter them.

“You’re mainly going to see them whenever your dog wants to be outside, so you’ve got to think about that whenever you’re taking them out,” said Haley Bechard of Utah Rattlesnake Avoidance.

Bechard, a licensed rattlesnake handler, said she turned her love of snakes and dogs into a program designed to protect both.

“We create a safe environment to help (dogs) know that small is bad,” Bechard said.

Bechard’s classes employ a dog collar that sends an impulse to the dog when it gets too close or takes too much interest in a rattlesnake encased in a see-through container.

“It’s supposed to make them feel uncomfortable to the situation, so we’re going to add that negative connotation to the rattlesnake,” Bechard said.

Dogs of several breeds went through the training at DogTown Kennels in Sandy Thursday.

The negative reinforcement seemed to work quickly on Janelle Tardif’s Doberman, Cao, who has tended to be the curious type when out on hikes through the mountains and deserts.

“Prior to the course, had he seen a snake, I definitely think he would have tried to go with him and make friends,” Tardif laughed.

Tardif, who moved from Maine four years ago, has always been unnerved by snakes despite her deep appreciation for the outdoors.

“Suddenly there was this rattlesnake threat!” Tardif said. “I found that I’d be walking on the trail and suddenly I couldn’t walk anymore because I was so afraid of seeing a rattlesnake.”

She said the training helped to impart a healthy amount of that fear into Cao.

“It was really quick, effective,” Tardif smiled. “This has comforted me greatly.”

DWR officials recommend people leash their dogs when out in the wild.

As for the people themselves, they recommend remaining calm when encountering rattlesnakes, maintaining a distance of at least 5 feet, and warning others in the area of the rattler’s presence.

They remind people it is illegal to kill rattlesnakes, and attempting to do so also increases the probability of a bite.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Sharon McMahon has one million ‘Sharon Says So’ Instagram followers. (Sharon McMahon)...
Candice Madsen, KSL TV

Woman behind ‘Sharon Says So’ podcast explains how we stop screaming at each other

Sharon McMahon is known as America's government teacher. Every day, she takes to Instagram, clearing up misinformation with straight forward facts. KSL Newsradio's Boyd Matheson got some great advice from her about civility for our series, "A More Perfect Union."
4 hours ago
Candice Madsen, KSL TV

Why Utahns may need refresher course in civics education

Civic knowledge is alarmingly low in Utah and across the country. Only nine states require a full year of civics or government studies, and 10 states have no requirement at all.
1 day ago
FILE PHOTO (Deseret News)...
Madison Swenson & Debbie Worthen, KSL TV

Dog dies after being found unattended in hot car

Officials with Salt Lake County Animal Services are reminding Utahns to not leave their dogs unattended in a hot car after one died Tuesday.
1 day ago
File photo...
Matt Gephardt

Passenger says Priceline promised first-class tickets but only delivered coach

When you pay for a first-class ticket, you'd expect a first-class seat. So, what can you do when a third-party booking site sticks you into an economy class seat for the same price instead of the first-class ticket you bought?
1 day ago
8-year-old Macie Hill who tragically died at a Kaysville 4th of July parade. (Credit: The Hill Fami...
Dan Rascon & Andrew Adams, KSL TV

‘She was the sweetheart of the family’: Kaysville family remembers Macie Hill

An 8-year-old girl is remembered in Kaysville as the “light, sparkle, and sunshine” of her family after her tragic death on Monday.
1 day ago
Utah Highway Patrol cars watching the fireworks. (Credit: Utah Highway Patrol)...
Michael Houck

UHP: 5 fatal crashes, 2,500 drivers stopped for speeding July Fourth weekend

Utah Highway Patrol reports a 26% increase of cited drivers over the Fourth of July weekend compared to 2021. 
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Utah wildlife officials warn of higher presence of rattlesnakes this summer