Wisconsin scientists search for endangered massasauga rattlesnakes

An eastern massasauga rattlesnake crawls over woody debris in a Wisconsin field.

JACKSON COUNTY – The search started when the morning was young and the air was cool. The aroma of sweet tea lingered in the Jackson County forest openings.

But it was now into the fourth hour and at the third site.

Time and conditions were working against us.

Mother Nature had delivered a “dog day” of August; the sun rose into a clear sky and the mercury climbed into the 90s.

While the heat might draw out beach goers it was apt to have the opposite effect on cold-blooded creatures that could find all the warmth they need under cover.

And though our crew had logged dozens of interesting finds, including an eastern hognose snake and a five-lined skink, the target species had yet to be seen.

Until 11:10 am, that is.

“Snake!” said Bridget Rathman, a wildlife biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

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