Oklahoma Game Wardens warning about snake season

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TISHOMINGO, Okla. (KXII) -- It's that time of year: getting out on the lake, fishing, hunting, camping and getting outdoors.

But people aren't the only ones getting outside.

The game wardens say the mortality rate for snake bites in the United States is a half of one percent.

But they say you just have to know what to do if it does happen to you.

In the summer months, snakes are at their most active state and since most people are too, the wardens want everyone to know what to do.

"The likelihood of being bitten by a venomous snake is very low," said Ty Runyan, Oklahoma Game Warden for Pontotoc County.

Oklahoma game wardens put on a class for anyone and everyone on Tuesday to learn about Oklahoma's sixty species of snakes they may encounter in the coming months.

"I chose to come along with my father," said Henson, who attended the class.

The goal was education: how to identify the nine venomous species and what to do if you're bitten by a the three most common: copperheads, cotton mouths and rattlesnakes.

Wardens say a man in Osage County died of a rattle snake bite last summer.

Earlier in April, a Texas toddler was bitten by a copperhead and had to be hospitalized in critical condition.

"We're in a rural area, everyone like being outside, hunting fishing, recreating of some sort. So everybody runs into snakes," said Runyan.

They say the differences between venomous and non-venomous are small, such as the face, head and eye shapes.

"I learned that they have a, I guess you could call it a heat sensor, heat pit, that allows them to see thermal," said Henson.

But nothing is an exact science. The main idea of the presentation: stay away from a snake and it won't want to hurt you.

"We just want people to know what they are, where they are, their niche in the habitat and what they're there for," said Runyan.

Wardens say it's good to have a healthy respect for the power a venomous snake has, but it's not necessary to live in fear.

Some weren't convinced.

"I haven't exactly tested the limits on that," said Henson.

Wardens say Tuesday's class is a small step toward protecting the ecosystem, that includes people and the snakes who share it.

"Knowledge is power so if you know what you're dealing with, you can kind of face that a little easier. you know what's in front of you," said Runyan.

Here's a link to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation website, where you can learn more information about these breeds:

http://www.wildlifedepartment.com/wildlife/field-guide