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Know the West

Help search for snakes

  Hikers, bikers and river rafters should be ready to capture - with cameras, that is - any scaly-skinned critters sunning themselves on Grand Canyon rocks. Nikolle Brown, also known as "the Snake Lady," needs help documenting reptile sightings for her Snakes of the Grand Canyon Identification and Distribution project.

Brown, a seasoned wildlife biologist for the Park Service, began the project in April 1998, after she discovered that there was virtually no information on the distribution of the speckled rattlesnake in the Grand Canyon. In her free time and with her own money, Brown began piecing together a snake distribution guide for the Grand Canyon from rim to rim.

The first year, she received 60 records from river guides, hikers and Park Service workers and has now collected close to 200 snake and other reptile records. She hopes to get more this summer. In order to verify the record, Brown requires a photograph or slide and the date and location of the sighting, including river mile and side of the canyon. Because snake species often look similar, she says a photograph is crucial for correct identification.

Brown hopes project participants will exercise common sense. "If you see the snake is a foot long," she says, "stay at least two feet away from it."

Send photographs to Nikolle Brown at 7779 N. Leonard, Clovis, CA 93611; call 559/298-8574 or e-mail [email protected]