I am attending the North American Council on Adoptable Children in Toronto Ontario Canada. Twice during breaks I have been part of a discussion around hiking the Bruce Peninsula and the dangers of the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake.
In one discussion a Grandfather described how he was hiking with his daughter and granddaughter. 5 kilometers into the hike and 2 kilometers from the car they came across a large Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake. The snake was less than a 10 centimeters off the path coiled and rattling. The path was described as wide enough for a single person pass and with an immediate drop down the escarpment on the opposite side from the snake. Their problem was which way to go: hike 5 kilometers back to the car or find a way around the snake. The second conversation was a couple discussing the reason they would never take their children camping or hiking on the Bruce Peninsula and yes it was because of the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake.
Paul and I vacationed with our children and up until this year our grandchildren on the Bruce Peninsula where we have a seasonal campsite at Miller’s Family Campground. We never worried about Rattlesnakes. In the 15 years we camped on the Bruce we saw maybe 6 Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake and never when we were at any risk a a bite. Were we naïve and lucky or can the issue of the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake be safely managed for families with children.
To answer this question I turned to the Internet and I found out that there has been an increase of snake bits this year. 'Unusual number of snake bites in Ontario this summer' Toronto Star. In the article I learned that there has six snake bites so far this year, an unusually high number. The weather this year combined with a loss of natural habitat has meant that there are more snakes in the same area as the hikers. Link to the article : http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2013/07/17/unusual_number_of_snake_bites_in_ontario_this_summer_official_says.html
The following websites provide important information on keeping yourself and your family safe with hiking the Bruce Peninsula:
I took these two pictures on one of our hikes years ago
Paul and I will keep on hiking by:
- Always being alert to where you put your feet and hands
- When we hear the distinctive rattle we will not run. We will stop and determine where the snake is and move away in the opposite direction.
- We will never touch or harass the snake.
- We will teach our children and grandchildren what the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake looks like and how to act if they encounter one.
- We will always keep our dogs on a leash when hiking with them.