CWU News

Ellensburg Women Help Snakes Cross the Road

Boa snake

Most late spring and summer nights, Adrian Slade and Wendy Shaw cruise the back roads of Kittitas County near the Columbia River in Slade’s Subaru SUV.

They’re not out to enjoy the basalt rock formations, the sunsets or the view of the Columbia as it rolls toward Wanapum Dam.

Instead, their attention is laser-focused on the road immediately in front, scanning it for snakes that are trying to get across the road as they go to or from food sources.

. . . Slade, a biology student at Central Washington University, said they started out “road cruising,” where other snake watchers — which Shaw and Slade call “herpers” after the Greek word for reptiles — go out at night looking for snakes in the wild.

While most herpers do it just to see snakes in the same way bird-watchers seek out various avian species, the women saw something more alarming: Snakes killed by motor vehicles.

“We went out to see some night snakes, and we realized the carnage on the road,” said Shaw, who works at an Ellensburg computer company and volunteers with CWU’s snake lab.

Read this article in its entirety online at the Yakima Herald Republic.