Snakes at a park: Allen patrons feared they were venomous

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on March 28, 2012 at 10:15 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 29 at 7:33 AM

Bethany Lakes Park

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ALLEN — A sudden increase of snake sightings at a popular Allen park is giving some patrons a case of the jitters.

Gail Lugo, fearing the reptiles were venomous, called the city, pleading for help. But the Allen Parks and Recreation Department is urging people not to worry.

Lugo became alarmed and frightened when she saw several snakes — one at least five feet long —  nesting in tree roots, just a few feet from the trail at Bethany Lakes Park.

"A lot of the kids were in their little flip-flops and running around on the grass, so you can't see the snakes really," she said. "So slithering through the grass, somebody could be bitten or hurt."

Another large snake was killed by a park patron about 25 yards away. Others have been seen resting in trees.

Lugo and other people in the park feared the snakes were cottonmouth water moccasins, a venomous species commonly found in North Texas.

The Allen Parks and Recreation Department asked animal control officers to visit the park to identify the snakes. Based on markings, they were identified as non-venomous water snakes.

Charles Skelton was relieved to hear the snakes are not venomous. He often fishes here with his 12-year-old nephew.

"There used to be a big concern. But now that I know they're not venomous, that's a good thing," Skelton said.

Lugo is also relieved. "I walk my dogs here every day, and with all these kids out here, I would just hate to see anybody be bitten by one of these snakes if they were venomous," she said.

Parks department officials say snakes and people have co-existed at Bethany Lakes for years. Their advice: Leave the snakes alone and they'll likely leave you alone.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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