Copperheads on the move: How to avoid them

WASHINGTON – A 10-year-old Fairfax County boy who walked out of his garage and a young woman who stopped her car along the George Washington Parkway to take a picture have something in common: They were both bitten by a copperhead snake.

“We’ve have had quite a bit of copperhead activity this year,” says Scott McCombe, owner of Animal Control Solutions. He says that snakes usually stay in one area but environmental changes like heavy rain will cause them to move “and find themselves in places that a lot of times humans are, like the GW Parkway.”

Copperheads found in the D.C. area are active from April to sometimes as late as December, depending on when the area turns cold.

Glenn Therres, an associate director with the Wildlife and Heritage Service of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, says officials are not really sure what is spurring the increase of bites.

“Other than,” he says, “people being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

The young woman and the boy were treated with anti-venom and released from the hospital. While the bites are painful, they are not usually fatal.

So why are they moving?

“You run out of food or water, what are you gonna do? You are going to go looking for it,” McCombe says of the snakes.

Therres says copperheads are not aggressive but if cornered, they will fight. The best thing to do if one crosses your path is to stay away.

“You should observe it at a distance and let it go its merry way,” Therres says.

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