By Pete Soyer
The recent dry weather has been bringing some unwanted visitors into Havre.
Animal control officer Gordon Inabnit said raccoons, skunks and gophers are coming into town for some cooler surroundings, but the visitor that causes the most problems is the rattlesnake.
Inabnit said rattlesnakes are usually not a problem until August, but police and citizens have reported three confirmed rattlesnake sightings and 10 unconfirmed sightings in town already. Last year at this time there were none.
Inabnit said the snakes are coming into town because of the heat and dryness. Rattlesnakes primarily eat mice, Inabnit said, and the heat is driving mice into town seeking cooler temperatures. "They are following the food source," he said.
Rattlesnakes are usually in the south end of Havre, but Inabnit said police have received reports from all over town. People have reported rattlesnakes from the edges of town and the center of town.
"People need to be aware of the possibility of rattlesnakes when they are out in their yards," Inabnit said.
Inabnit said some common places for rattlesnakes to go are shaded areas like wood piles and under sheds. "They lay out in the sun too," he said.
A rattlesnake's venom attacks the muscular and respiratory system in animals and people, Inabnit said. Any victim should get medical attention immediately.
"If there is any chance that a child or dog is bit, get them to the local doctor or vet right away," he said.
"Try to keep them calm," he added.
Inabnit said if someone sees a rattlesnake they should leave it alone and call the police. Police try to remove it from the area in the safest way possible, and if they can't, they'll kill it.