I had a ball last night. I also held this snake!
One of the things I have planned to do in retirement is take advantage of opportunities to volunteer out where the wild and beautiful things are. Volunteering happens to also be one of the requirements of achieving and sustaining Master Naturalist certification.
Nova Clarke, Black Bayou Lake NWR Ranger, is conducting volunteer training right now, so I went last night. It was fun and informative.
She introduced us to Grouchy, the Louisiana Pine Snake, because one of the problems the refuge has is people killing snakes. I understand that many people dislike snakes, but killing them is not okay. Snakes occupy a very important ecological niche. Don’t mess with one in the wild and it is highly unlikely it will mess with you.
If you would like to consider volunteering at the refuge, come on out to Nova’s training. She will repeat the first class tomorrow (Thursday, 9/28) at 6 p.m. in the education center at the refuge. It’s a 2-class series, and in two weeks (Tuesday, 10/10 and Thursday, 10/12) she will offer the second class. I plan to be there.
BTW, Louisiana pine snakes are an endangered species. Nova estimated that no more than 100 survive in the wild due to loss of habitat, which is the longleaf pine forest where their favorite food–pocket gophers–thrive.