Protecting family, pets from wildlife

MARIETTA — The dog days of summer are here, bringing curious wildlife to wander in the backyards of local residents.

Local wildlife that’s found in Southeast Ohio can include anything from the Northern Copperhead to the American Black Bear.

“Often times snakes are misidentified and are often harmless if they are found in a home or backyard. There is usually a reason the snake is there and that is because of a food source,” said Ryan Donnelly, wildlife officer for Washington County through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. “I would encourage people to remove mice and other small rodents that snakes are attracted to hunt. If they are in the home put them back outside and seal up your home as best you can to prevent from coming back in.”

Some local nuisance wildlife trappers will come out and remove a snake from a home for a fee. This is also the case for raccoons and other small mammals. Marietta resident Jennylou Brock’s now-adult son was bitten by a copperhead when he was just 5 years old, creating a very scary situation for the family.

“I remember him coming inside and telling me a stick bit him. That’s when I looked down and noticed two small holes and knew it was from a snake,” said Brock.

Pets can also fall victim to the painful bite of a copperhead. Dr. Jessica Kidd with Green Meadow Veterinary Hospital in Marietta said she’s seen copperhead bites on dogs many times.

In the event that a beloved four-legged friend is bitten by a poisonous snake, Kidd recommends giving Benedryl immediately to slow down the swelling.

“Adult copperheads have the ability to release only a small amount of venom making it almost like a bee sting but if it’s a younger copperhead, they don’t know how to control that and it can be extremely life-threatening in a matter of minutes,” she said. “The venom kills tissue and causes immediate swelling. Giving Benedryl and applying an ice pack on the swelling can help slow down the reaction but vet care is needed immediately.”

Other wildlife native to this region of Ohio include coyotes, black bears and foxes. If one of these creatures find their way in a yard, residents should leave it alone. If there is an immediate danger, they should call 911.

There is local wildlife control in the area that can assist in the removal of snake or other animals.