Students in dorms should be wary of local, possibly dangerous wildlife

As students are settling into their dorms this year there may be other creatures looking to move in — snakes.

A couple weeks ago, a harmless garden snake was reported near the Peterson Heritage Center, something Barb Remsburg, director of Housing and Residential Education (HRE), said is not uncommon.

“Heritage Commons resides on the hillside. We are adjacent to the Shoreline Trail and other nature areas,” she said. “We live amongst the wildlife.”

As the weather gets cooler, it is especially common to see snakes and other reptiles creeping down the mountain. In preparation, HRE annually places natural snake repellent around student housing that irritates the creatures’ sense of smell and drives them away.

About once every year, HRE sends out an alert to students advising them about the risks of finding wildlife. For those who do find snakes, Remsburg said it is best not to try and catch them, even if you are certain they are not venomous. Just as the student who recently found the snake did, call the U’s Campus Police. They will relocate the critter to a natural habitat.

Most students have not even considered the possibility of running into snakes on campus. Lizzie Haroldsen, a freshman in English, has never seen wildlife around the dorms nor heard of anyone else spotting anything.

“I don’t think it’s a big problem people should be worried about,” she said. “Obviously there is always the chance of something happening, but it is not big.”

Even with repellent, Remsburg suggests students use caution. Construction in the Red Butte area has disrupted the homes of many creatures living in the area.

“For individuals who are not used to the environment here, it’s good to be aware,” she said.

Remsburg suggests not walking barefoot or with open–toed shoes outside, not walking through bushes and wood chips around the buildings and not placing hands and bare feet on the ground without looking first. While most native snakes are non-poisonous, there are some species of venomous snakes nearby, such as rattlesnakes.

Beside snakes, deer are the only other wildlife Remsburg has seen around campus.

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@carolyn_webber