The widespread prevalence of ophidiophobia, the fear of snakes, has resulted in the death of countless snakes - even those that pose no risk to humans.
This is an issue that the Virginia Wildlife Management and Control Company wants to tackle with the introduction of their snake ID hotline.
The way it works is that the public will share photos of snakes they encounter to the hotline, where they will be connected with a snake expert who will immediately identify the type of snake and report back.
"As long as we can see the head and the pattern well enough, we can 100 percent positively ID it," said company owner Richard Perry.
The team behind the hotline is based in Chesterfield, Virginia, but work all over the state.
The goal of the hotline is to reduce the number of snakes unnecessarily killed by fearful residents. Due to the widespread fear around snakes, people automatically assume that any snake they encounter is venomous, which is rarely the case.
"People just automatically assume it's a venomous snake and right away they're just quick to kill it," said Perry.
In the first three weeks the hotline was in business, more than 100 snake photos were submitted every day. Each of these photos represents a snake whose life is on the line and the hotline team is proud to help. Snakes are an important part of the local ecosystem and are great at keeping rodent populations under control.
If you're in Virginia and come upon a snake, you can call (804) 617-7086 to help identify it. Please keep your distance and be cautious, in case it is poisonous!
What do you think of this hotline? Tell us in the comments below.
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