MILWAUKEE — Nearby Nature Milwaukee is tracking how the Butler’s garter snake population is growing in the city.
This particular species is unique to parts of the Midwest and Canada.
Mars Patterson, chief land steward for Nearby Nature Milwaukee, is leading a group of volunteers in searching for the snakes.
“The reason we are doing this now, starting from May to July, is that this is their breeding season, so it’s likely we are able to observe more,” said Patterson.
Once the snakes are found, the group records the gender, the size, and marks it to make sure they are not recounted.
Before 2000, there were concerns about whether the Butler’s garter snake would be able to survive in Hopkins Hollow, a nature space at the north end of the 30th Street Corridor.
That’s why they were temporarily moved from the area to allow for the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District to remove the concrete channels in the watershed.
Patterson said the snakes were then returned to the site after the construction
“Now that there’s a population out here that gives us more support to conserve this space because they are calling this area home,” said Patterson.
As a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee student and Nearby Nature intern, Hassan Richardson said he believes it’s a great experience because he is studying both conservation and environmental science.
“Basically, practice conservation in especially urban spaces. It’s growing more but, in the past, it wasn’t really that common,” said Richardson.
For Patterson, this work is important because it is a reminder that humans, plants and animals need each other.
“I know it might seem farfetched when you are living your regular life and you are trying to go to work to take care of your family. ‘Why should I care about this?’” said Patterson. “[The answer is] because it does affect you in the long run, caring about the waterway, caring about the plants. It’s all a part of it.”
After recording the information they need, Patterson then releases the snake back into the wild.
Patterson said this study is just one way she aims to get the community more immersed in nature.