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Va. copperhead problem ‘supersedes’ last year, expert says

Posted at 7:54 PM, May 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-24 19:54:12-04

CHESTERFIELD, Va. --There has been an uptick in reports of snake sightings and bites in Central Virginia, as people head outside to enjoy the warmer weather.

Neighbors in Chesterfield County are warning each other about their encounters with copperheads. The snakes are one of three venomous species in Virginia.

Cathy Harmon posted a picture of her dog to the WTVR Facebook page. The picture shows little Ellie May suffering from a copperhead bite that she got at Rockwood Park. Her leg was severely wounded, though she is feeling better and recovering from the bite.

The park is not the only place to be on the lookout for snakes.

David Zirtzlaff found a copperhead in the front yard of his Chesterfield County home Sunday.

"I looked down and saw the snake," he said.

Zirtzlaff killed the venomous snake with a shovel.

"I was having an adrenaline rush, I guess, and I just wanted to take care of it," he said.

Richard Perry owns Virginia Wildlife Management and Control. He said he’s gotten calls daily from people wanting him to get a snake away from their home.

“We thought last year was the worst year we ever had – this year has by far superseded last year,” Perry said.

"Usually when people go and have an encounter with a snake and try to take it into their own hands with no experience or anything they usually end up getting themselves in trouble,” Perry explained.

He recommended contacting a specialist.

Good advice if you encounter a slithering surprise.

If you are bitten by a copperhead, experts say to sit down and stay calm. Gently wash the area with warm, soapy water. The most important thing is to get immediate medical attention.

Also, remove any jewelry or tight clothing near the bite site, and try to keep the bite area still.