Rattlesnakes in Pennsylvania State Forests
The largest populations of timber rattlesnakes occur in remote, heavily forested regions of Pennsylvania which means they often call state forests home. These amazing creatures are frequently misunderstood and feared. The truth is that they just want to be left in peace, are a beneficial part of the ecosystem and without them some of the wild character of our forests would be lost.
Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Bureau of Forestry's 2.2 million acres of State Forest lands provide the largest blocks of timber rattlesnake range remaining in the Northeastern states. These forests are managed according to the principles of ecosystem management, with the realization that all the different species must be present to sustain a healthy, functioning forest.
The presence of timber rattlesnakes is one of the components that gives a wild flavor to State Forest land. The largest populations of timber rattlesnakes occur in the remote, heavily forested regions of Pennsylvania, and the state Wildlife Action Plan recognizes the state's responsibility in maintaining viable populations of native species.
Worldwide, the importance of venomous snakes is being recognized not only for their role as both predator and prey but for their medical value. Recent promising breakthroughs in treatments for hypertension, heart attack, and cancer are attributed to snake venom research.
Pennsylvania experienced a major decline in its timber rattlesnake population during recent decades attributed mainly to unrestricted commercial and sport hunting, den raiding, and land development. This decline prompted the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (charged with aquatic invertebrate, fish, reptile, and amphibian management) to implement protective regulations and declare the timber rattlesnake a Candidate species for listing (Timber rattlesnakes are listed as threatened or endangered in neighboring states). DCNR urges all State Forest users including recreational visitors, camp lessees, logging, mineral, and rights-of-way contractors, fuel wood cutters, and passers-through to exhibit a tolerance for the timber rattlesnake and abide by all applicable regulations: