Potentially poisonous snake spotted near Haskell; officials urge caution

Lachesis muta, or bushmaster

Haskell Indian Nations University officials are asking people to use caution on the west side of campus and in locations west of the campus, after a biologist spotted a potentially poisonous snake in the area.

“Just use caution, especially with your animals,” said Chuck Haines, Haskell biologist. “Don’t go very close to the woods for right now.”

Kansas University biology students were contacted to help look for the snake, which Haines identified as a non-native species, possibly a South American bushmaster, a venomous viper. The snakes, which can be up to eight feet in length, are the largest of South American vipers, said William Duellman, KU Natural History Museum Herpetology Division curator. “It’s the big guy,” he said.

Haines said he removed two smaller venomous snakes from the wooded area west of the school on Wednesday and received an anonymous tip that the snakes had been dumped there. Caution signs have been posted throughout Haskell’s campus warning people to be careful.

David McLeod, a KU biology doctoral student, said it’s unlikely the snake will be located because the wooded area is so large. He said non-native snakes should never be released into the wild, as they can “wreak havoc on the natural system.”

A representative of South Junior High School said the school, west of Haskell, and neighboring Broken Arrow School had been apprised of the situation.