Science | June 27, 2021 12:28 pm

California’s Drought Is Driving Rattlesnakes and Bears Into Populated Areas

An alarming side effect of climate change

A rattlesnake
As a noted scientist once said, why did it have to be snakes?
Duncan Sanchez/Unsplash

Reading about the drought currently besieging the state of California is alarming in its own right. It’s also alarming in terms of what it anticipates: the high likelihood of massive wildfires, for example, with all of the destruction that comes along with them. But the drought affecting the state also has other side effects, and some of them are every bit as alarming as fires raging across the landscape.

Phrasing it slightly differently, which would you rather contend with — a wildfire, a bear or a group of rattlesnakes? That’s not a theoretical question for many Californians. An article by Gabrielle Canon at The Guardian documents the way that certain dangerous species are being pushed into more populated areas by the ravages of the ongoing drought.

Len Ramirez, the proprietor of Ramirez Rattlesnake Removal, is one of the experts quoted in the article. For Ramirez, the ongoing drought has led to an even more substantial influx of rattlesnakes due to the increase in development going on throughout the state.

The Guardian notes that rattlesnakes aren’t the only animals moving towards populated areas as a result of the drought. Bears are as well, and so are birds carrying the West Nile virus. It’s a time of change for many animals — predators and scavengers alike — which can make for some worrying conditions for humans in the area.

Ramirez’s advice, especially for parents with small children, involves being aware of their surroundings. “I always remind parents to be a good scout before your kids go out to play,” he told The Guardian. It’s good advice under any conditions.