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The city has closed the Gibbons Park playground area as a precaution after animal control and parks officials received reports of a rattlesnake in the area.

While officials and experts haven’t verified the report, they want to make sure residents are aware that there are rattlesnakes in Cache Valley and the surrounding mountains.

“You don’t want to incite panic in anybody about this,” said Terry Messmer, USU Extension wildlife specialist. “They’re out there. The key thing is to be aware about your surroundings.”

Messmer said given the time of year and recent temperatures, it makes sense that a rattlesnake would be that low in the hills and would be seeking shade.

“With this warm weather, they’re looking for caverns or cavities or things like that that could keep them out of the sun, but can also keep them cool,” Messmer said. “And so people putting their hands in places where they shouldn’t put them, just be cognizant.”

Logan Parks Superintendent Ed Stevens said he’s not sure when the playground area will reopen. Parks officials have reached out to Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources for guidance, Stevens said, and Animal Control officers have kept an eye on the area but haven’t seen anything.

Messmer said it’s important to know that snakes don’t seek confrontation with humans.

“When folks are out hiking, if you run across a snake across your path, just stop,” Messmer said. “Stop. It’s going to escape. If you’re climbing and things like that on rock piles, be careful where you put your hands, be careful of where you sit.”

Messmer also encouraged people hiking or running on trails to leave the earbuds at home and listen to their surroundings.

“If you approach a snake an it’s in the area and it rattles, you’ve got to be able to hear that,” Messmer said. “If you don’t hear that, you could actually walk on top of a snake and inadvertently get bit.”

Messmer also encouraged people to keep an eye on children and keep dogs on-leash while in areas rattlesnakes could be.

While incidental bites do happen, most of the snakebites he’s seen have happened because someone was bothering a snake.

“The idea of harassing a rattlesnake or picking it up and going to show your friends or something, ‘Hey, I caught this rattlesnake,’ that’s a recipe for disaster,” Messmer said.

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