Originally Posted by brendodendo
We had an experience with rattlers on Ruby / Horse Thief. We were 5 families, 7 kids under 7 years old and 2 dogs. We pulled into camp and one showed up as we set up. I got a stick and moved it back up river to the next cottonwoods group (ones with water bucket). I came back to camp and there was another making it's way through camp. I moved it to. We ate, and as it got dark, were trying to get kids in bed, when another came in to the kitchen area. This one would not be caught and moved. It was pined with an oar and the head chopped off. Did I like doing it, No. Western diamond backs are not an endangered species, so it was not illegal. I killed it on the basis that it was more dangerous in camp , at night than it would be for me to move it and risk being bitten by one that I did not see. If that makes me an asshole, then so be it. The safety of my family and friends trumps any belief in the wilderness / leave no trace ethic. I now believe that just as in river safety, every situation is different for different people.
Western Diamondback? They don't have habitat in Colorado or Utah:
Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
Snakes of Colorado - Colorado Herping
Crotalus atrox - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Why this matters? Its pretty common for people to assume the worst possible outcome with rattlesnakes and in this case assuming its a western diamondback means confusing a local snake with one that does kill the most people in the US.
Only about 10 people a year die from snake bites in the US, not much of a concern. As well, even when bitten most people survive, though the toxins can leave short term and long term damage.
Most bites and deaths come from people who intentionally handle or provoke snakes. So actually killing a snake increases the risk of harm and potentially death to someone in your party. This is especially true for the most venomous of snakes in the country that tend to be very aggressive. Ironically these are not the ones most of us encounter.
Here is a case study of Utah deaths:
(That is 5 rattlesnake deaths in Utah (though one was in AZ actually) over 91 years.)
Obviously, to each their own. But there is a lot of misunderstanding and poor education out there regarding which species are a major concern and its all too common for people to wrongly identify them.
And ironically....your group has a higher risk of someone dying from an undiagnosed allergy to bee stings than a snake bite. Talk about a worry on places like the Main Salmon (sarcasm)....even with twice as many deaths its still a minuscule risk. We've lost more people on rivers to alcohol recently then any of these concerns and we are rightfully not trying to eradicate from our journeys.