Originally Posted by PARKER
The consequences a Rattlesnake bite can very quickly include loss of life or limb without treatment. Do not delay transport and treatment.
An educated guess is that the average Rattlesnake "Dry" Bite costs something to the tune of $20,000. An envenomation, requiring multiple doses of Cro-Fab and a hospital admission, would be quickly approaching the $100,000 mark. Throw in a backcountry helo evac ( which would be an appropriate call) and add $25- 50k.
Food for thought when considering being anywhere near know rattlesnake locations.
Not sure what I would do, but I would leave killing on the table.
The costs are staggering. That said, a "rational" community discussion of the risk to whitewater boaters to this expensive reality would be to encourage users to have respectable insurance, something that should be common considering the inherent risk of our sport to begin with.
To the killing as a viable option for prevention.....killing a snake increases the risk of a snake bite in two very specific ways. First, it puts you in closer proximity to the snake. Even with a 10' foot oar you remain within the striking distance of most regional snakes (between their length, speed of movement and continued reflexes with all but an immediate shot to the brain). Two, more often than not you are going to escalate the reflexive behavior of the snake into a striking potential. Most snakes will not strike unless provoked or caught off guard in which case they strike defensively (which often means a "dry strike" as detailed above).
Most professionals and herpetologist recommend against killing snakes unless absolutely necessary (like confined to a dangerous place or the animal is already acting aggressively). So with the inherent increased risk of a strike and professional's largely recommending against intentionally killing them.....why should the option be viably recommended by laymen like us? Well beyond the very subjective personal opinions of "wilderness" is the issue of actual safety. Everything in medical training and risk management says to avoid escalating risk.
Its just funny to me that the primary response is to kill it when some simple steps can help, like: avoiding rocker areas or natural cavities (root balls like I previously experienced); moving camp or portions of camp if an animal is present; wearing high top shoes and long pants when snakes are known to be in the area; etc.
This reminds me of the concept author Glassner wrote about in "Culture of Fear". I have to wonder if social media like forums only amplifies the rhetoric. Instead of all of the shades of grey dealing with the subject we either get "kill" or "don't kill" when the middle ground is filled with a ton of options. When the discourse spins in the black and white I think we actually escalate our risks instead of mitigating them.
I can't condemn individuals for doing what they think is right, especially when their is unspoken context and nuance, but as a community I think its best to talk about all of the other options before condoning killing snakes. Food for thought.