Wildlife officials are asking West Virginians to let them know when they see timber rattlesnakes as part of a scientific project to determine their current distribution in the state.
According to the Division of Natural Resources, rattlesnakes are a critical part of healthy forest ecosystems and hunt mice and chipmunks, helping reduce the human risk of contracting Lyme disease and other diseases spread by the small mammals.
People are asked to report rattlesnake sightings through an online form www.wvdnr.gov/rattlesnakereport .
They are asked to provide the location through geographic coordinates from a handheld GPS unit or using a map on the website. They are also asked to submit a photograph.
Biologist Kevin Oxenrider says timber rattlesnakes have been disappearing throughout much of their range, mainly from habitat loss and direct persecution.