(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF WKYT NEWS RICHMOND KENTUCKY)
EKU researchers studying copperheads in the Gorge
RICHMOND, Ky. (WKYT) — They’re a common snake found throughout the state. The copperhead snake is one that shows up quite often, especially across eastern Kentucky. Their habitat is best suited in these areas.
“The forest, the plateau, and mountains provide underground retreats. The forest has lots of organisms for them to eat and cover, and leaf litter that they blend in with,” said Dr. Stephen Richter, an EKU biology professor.
Richter is heading a research study in the Gorge area that’s aimed at learning more about copperhead snakes, their habitat, and how to minimize human-snake interaction. The group captures these snakes, insert a microchip, track their movements and collect data. Then, the snakes are recaptured.
“We learn about population size, body, growth-rates, sex ratios, just basic biology,” said Richter.
It’s this information that researchers can make areas of high human activity less attractive for copperheads. Richter says we just have to be more alert with our surroundings.
“Watch where you’re walking. If there is a downed tree over the trail which happens quite a bit, do not step directly over it, step on it. Look on the other side before you do. Just not putting your hands and feet where you cannot see and stepping too closely to an object where they might be hiding for cover,” said Richter.
Richter sais this is a joint research effort that involves EKU, the U.S. Forest Service, The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and the Louisville Zoo.