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Jul 15 2020

Coexisting with rattlesnakes in southern Ohio

Posted by TC Energy

On the Buckeye XPress (BXP) project in southern Ohio, four state-approved herpetologists are on speed dial with TC Energy’s construction team.

Part of the pipeline is near a snake hibernaculum, or winter snake den, where species protected by the state, such as the timber rattlesnake, are known to roam. For that reason, the BXP team has put in place mitigation measures to ensure the safety of snakes—as well as its workers from the venomous reptiles.

This includes enlisting the herpetologists, called “snake wranglers,” to check the site every morning and evening for the presence of snakes. They're also on call throughout the day in case one is spotted.

Since construction began in May, the snake wranglers have caught two timber rattlesnakes. Both snakes, a juvenile and a large adult, received passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags that can be used to identify them in the future, tracking their movements.

The adult also received a transmitter, and its weight, measurement and DNA data were collected for future reference by researchers. The transmitter will enable the snake wranglers to radio-track the snake to make sure it has left the construction site and remains out of harm’s way. If it returns to the construction area, it will be recaptured and given a new transmitter with a battery life of three years.

Both timber rattlesnakes have since been re-released into their safe denning and surrounding habitat.


"Every animal has a crucial part in the local ecosystem," says Melissa Dettling, TC Energy’s environmental project manager for BXP. "It's really important to me that we encourage environmental biodiversity on our projects."

Melissa notes that during project consultation, the team included a route modification to avoid some known snake dens entirely. The team will also create a foraging or basking habitat for the snakes once construction is over using rocks and trees that are removed from the right-of-way for construction.

We're happy to do whatever we can to protect the species in the areas we are in. We always work to construct our pipelines in a safe and environmentally friendly way. I'm proud to work for a company that is committed to doing the right thing—in this case, we're minimizing our impact on the environment and coexisting peacefully with the snakes.”

Melissa Dettling
TC Energy, BXP Environmental Project Manager