Section of road in southern Illinois closed due to migrating snakes – NBC Chicago

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A stretch of road more than two miles in southern Illinois will be closed for several weeks due to an annual snake migration not often seen elsewhere in the country.

Known as the “Snake Road,” Forest Road No. 345 in the Shawnee National Forest was closed to vehicles beginning Sept. 1 and continuing through Oct. 30, according to the United States Forest Service.

The road is closed to vehicles twice a year, with another closure taking place from March to May.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says the biannual event marks a time when snakes migrate to and from nearby limestone cliffs and LaRue Marsh. IDNR notes that some of the snakes and amphibians making the trek from cliffs to water and back are endangered in Illinois and the United States, so road closures help keep them safe when they do. cross.

It’s a rare and incredibly popular sight in southern Illinois, but although the road is closed to vehicles, it’s not closed to people.

The forest service emphasizes to onlookers that “the capture, collection or harassment of wild animals of any kind is prohibited”.

This is good advice not only for snakes but also for humans, as a number of poisonous species are part of the migration.

According to biologist Mark Vukovich, who spoke to NBC Affiliate Station 5 On Your Side, up to 23 snake species have been documented in the region. This includes the Northern Cottonmouth, Copperhead, and Timber Rattlesnake species.

The Forest Service also warns hikers of potential run-ins with poisonous snakes.

“Poisonous snakes exist in the area, avoid being bitten by moving away slowly if you encounter a snake,” reads a post on the department’s website.

Vukovich said for those looking to witness the migration, the best viewing time will likely be in October.

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