JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– A rattlesnake-tracking program on North Table Mountain in Jefferson County is wrapping up and officials say the results have been very interesting.
The program launched in April 2017 and was a joint effort between Jeffco Open Space and Adaptation Environmental Services. They inserted radio transmitters into 20 rattlesnakes and checked in on them several times a week. They also surveyed visitors in the area.
“We get a lot of reports of rattlesnake encounters in this area. It struck us as an interesting area to study human interactions with rattlesnakes. We wanted to look at the perceptions of visitors through outreach education here and look at the ecology of these snakes in an urban situation,” said Andrew DuBois with Jefferson County Open Space.
DuBois says they wanted to track the snakes to see where they lived and moved. He adds that on North Table Mountain rattlesnakes are everywhere and utilize all types of terrain.
“There’s suitable habitat for them in every corner of this property. We also learned they’re very happy to colonize areas that are very close to trails. They tend to have quiet behaviors near trails, some of them will be only four to five feet from a trail and people will walk by without knowing they’re around,” DuBois told CBS4’s Dominic Garcia.
Jeffco Open Space also increased their education program and outreach to visitors in the area. Officials say hikers and mountain bikers need to stay on designated trails, keep their dogs on a leash, and only use one headphone so they can hear a rattlesnake rattle. Dubois says that’s important because a lot of times people won’t notice them because they blend into the landscape so well.
“You become aware of their mastery of blending in in this system,” said DuBois.
Volunteers played a key part in the study.