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Snakes in Southcentral Alaska? Only pets, say biologists

Tegan Hanlon
Photo courtesy of KAIULANI REES

Don Rees stumbled upon three snake sheds when hiking the Turnagain Arm Trail on April 6, an unlikely sighting in a place where biologists say the species doesn't exist in the wild.

The 57-year-old said he and his wife set out to see Dall sheep at the Windy Corner Trailhead, a south-facing slope. Busy looking up at the sheep, he finally looked down at a pile of rocks and noticed a few sheds about 40 feet apart. "I had thought it was pretty odd," he said.

Rees searched the Internet for photographs of snake sheds, concluding that his findings may belong to a garter snake.

But Dave Battle, an assistant area biologist with the state Department of Fish and Game, said there are not any native breeding populations of snakes in Southcentral Alaska. He said the winters are too cold and too long, paired with extreme weather in surrounding regions.

"If there was a snake shed, I would assume someone let go of their pet," he said.

Reach Tegan Hanlon at thanlon@adn.com or 257-4589.


By TEGAN HANLON
thanlon@adn.com