A BEAUFORT snake catcher is urging the region’s councils to provide a snake removal program.
Gianni Hodgson launched a petition on popular petition site Change.org, which urges the area’s councils to take up the proposed program.
Adopting the program would mean that council would connect residents with a snake catcher at no charge to the resident.
Melton Council adopted the program in 2016 after similar calls were made by the community.
Mr Hodgson will submit the petition to the Pyrenees, Ararat, Northern Grampians and other surrounding councils once he has enough signatures.
Mr Hodgson said he wanted the program in place because he believed people were either unaware snake catchers were available to be called on, or people were aware but didn’t want to foot the bill, leading to do-it-yourself attempts at removing snakes.
This was what got people into trouble, he said.
“The majority of snake bites happen when people try and kill a snake instead of just letting it be,” he said.
Snakes are protected under the Wildlife Act 1975 and it is illegal to interfere with them or harm them.
Doing so can incur hefty fines.
Halls Gap Zoo general manger Carlee Vokes said some weeks the zoo was “hammered” with calls from distressed residents wanting a zoo keeper to come and remove a snake, which is not something zoo staff are able to help with.
“No one in the zoo has their snake removal licence. We get constant calls from people saying ‘there’s a snake in the yard’,” she said.
“A lot of the time it’s brown snakes, the occasional tiger which is a bit more aggressive than browns.”
Ms Vokes said the program Mr Hodgson wants implemented was a good idea, as snake catchers weren’t cheap.
“There are a lot of people that aren’t familiar with wildlife and wouldn’t know what to do, and it’s quite expensive to get the snake catcher out,” she said.
Ms Vokes offered some advice if anyone spotted a snake having a snooze in the laundry hamper.
“Snakes are sensitive to noise. Bang some pots and they’ll be on their way is the advice we give to 99.5 per cent of people,” she said.
“They don’t like vibrations so stamp your feet, although don’t do it right next to them.
“They don’t want to be near you any more than you want to be near them.”
Above all, she said, don’t kill them.
“They’ve got just as much of a right to be there as anyone else.”
The internet is full of videos of snakes finding their way into homes, including one of a snake being removed from an air-conditioner in a Little River home which went viral recently.
The residents called a snake catcher, who calmly removed it.
Warning: video contains coarse language.
Mr Hodgson said more people could access snake catchers like the one in the video if the program was adopted.
“It would not put that financial stress on people and it would stop them getting bitten,” he said.
A call out to Ararat could cost upwards of $100.
Mr Hodgson also wanted people to realise that snakes aren’t as aggressive as was generally believed.
“The snake’s first instinct isn’t to attack you, it’s to get away and flee,” he said.
“That means that unless you’re cornering it, it’s going to try and flee.”
Snakes only bite as a last resort as it depletes their ability to hunt for food , he said.
“The snake doesn’t have unlimited venom so if it uses it on you, it’s going to take weeks to reproduce that and it won’t be able to hunt again,” he said.
“If it’s threatened enough where it has decided it can go without food in order to bite you, you’ve got it in the wrong spot.”
Ararat Rural City Council chief, Dr Tim Harrison said that if the petition was presented to council it would receive due consideration.
“Like all petitions, we’d accept it to council and do some investigation as required,” he said.
“Snakes are always a problem for people. I don’t like the idea of doing it (removing it) myself and there is a requirement to protect native snakes.”
Northern Grampians Shire Director Infrastructure and Environment Chris Adams said council would encourage such a program.
“We appreciate that there are a lot of snakes in our area and we encourage people to contact DELWP if they have any issues.
“Snake catchings are regulated by the state government as they are native Australian animals and DELWP's advice is to call their customer service centre where their staff can put people in touch with a licensed snake catcher.”
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning can be contacted on 136 186.
To report wildlife crime, call 1800 333 000.
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