When Summer Strikes

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Leah Ferrante
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
As warm weather rolls in, more animals make their way out of their winter dwellings, which includes New Mexico's various snake populations. The 49th Civil Engineer Squadron Pest Management ensures they are always prepared to respond to calls and relocates snakes, or other animals, which have found themselves in harm's way on the base.

Pest Management is a small shop of one civilian and three active duty members who handle all pest control issues on Holloman, including ants, spiders, coyotes, raccoons, rattlesnakes and mosquitos. Pest Management is trained to handle all kinds of wildlife, and knows how to keep our base and our ecosystems safe, while protecting both animals and humans.

"Our primary job is pretty much the control of any kind of pest, whether that is animal or weed," said Staff Sgt. Robert Williams, 49th CES pest management craftsman.

With summer right around the corner, pest management is preparing for the busiest time of the year as snakes are emerging from brumation, when snakes are less active due to cold weather.

To be fully prepared for their daily jobs, the pest management facility currently houses three different kinds of snake species, the Blacktail, Prairie, and Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes. The snakes were recovered from various locations, and pest management brings the snakes back to the facility and contains them in tanks for training purposes.

"A lot of other bases, especially in our career field, don't have to deal with rattlesnakes or venomous snakes on a daily basis," said Williams. "That's why we keep them for a period of time, so we know that we can properly handle the snakes without hurting ourselves, or without hurting the snake."

After a period of time, or if the snake has a hard time adapting to the tank, Pest Management will relocate the snakes back to their natural habitat.   

"At first the snake thing bothered me, because I had never handled snakes before, but now, a snake call is my favorite call to get," said Airman 1st Class Taylor Bradford, 49th CES pest management apprentice. "As soon as we get a snake call I'm like 'let's go right now!'"

With over 46 species of snakes in New Mexico it's important to educate yourself on what you can possibly run into. Out of the 46, only eight of the species are actually venomous. Although perceived as scary, snakes play a huge part in New Mexico's ecosystem. Respecting their habitats and knowing what to do when you encounter them can help New Mexico sustain its beautiful wildlife.

There are many resources available when it comes to education. From researching snakes common to your area, knowing what the different patterns mean, or talking to a professional. Knowing all these resources can help spread knowledge instead of fear to the base and local community.

Kimberly Paws, a New Mexico native and reptile expert, can be contacted for education or immersion. Paws has a love for all animals and brought a non-profit group, "Island of the Misfit Morphs," to the Alamogordo area. Paws is dedicated to bringing animal based education to local schools and events, including Holloman. 

"It's important to teach the acceptance of snakes and other animals for what they are, and how they're important to the wild," said Paws. "It's a really awesome program for our community."

Paws is also available for snake rescue and safe relocation, as well as snake aversion training for dogs.   

If you find yourself in a snake situation this summer, remember that snakes will only strike if provoked. Assess the situation, safely remove yourself from the area and call the proper agencies.

You can request pest management on base through CES customer service, at 575-572-3223, and for more information about The Island of Misfit Morphs and education services visit www.facebook.com/theislandofmisfitmorphs