Sharp-tailed Snake Project Updates

October 9, 2015

Greetings Everyone,

The rains have come and the weather has been unseasonably warm so now is the perfect time to check your cover objects. Sharp-tailed snakes (STS) have probably been dormant throughout our hot, dry summer, but they should be more active now that autumn’s dampness is upon us.

But, please be cautious when you lift your covers. San Juan County Land Bank Preserve Steward, Doug McCutchen, found Black Widow Spiders under shingles on San Juan Island’s Cady Mountain Preserve in early August and again last week. Black widows were documented several years ago at the Deadman Bay Preserve, and have been seen on Yellow Island, so take care when turning over your shingles or carpets. Remember, gloves are a good idea when checking your sites.

San Juan Island’s Second Sharp-tail Found

On May 18, a cat killed a STS on Mt. Dallas. This is the second sighting ever recorded for San Juan Island. The first confirmation of the snake on the island was also killed by a cat in June, 2014 on Cady Mountain. The second specimen appears to be an adult, judging by the size. Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is graciously storing it for us until we can make arrangements to deposit it at a natural history museum.

Milner Oct 9 article
Mt. Dallas STS photo: D. McCutchen

Although to date there have been no reports of additional STS taking advantage of our cover objects, Northern alligator lizards and Northwestern garter snakes have turned up.

One of our volunteers had the great idea of reporting your observations via cell phone. This is possible, and you’ll find the information needed to submit data electronically via the web or your phone at:

I would still appreciate receiving any of the data forms provided last spring via email or US mail, if you’ve been filling them out., PO Box 1100, La Conner, WA 98257

Milner Waldorf Pic                       Milner Garter
Waldorf School students helping at English Camp                              Garter Snake found under a shingle

Thanks to all of you for your continued interest in finding the Sharp-tailed snake on San Juan Island. I welcome your comments and ideas and hope you all are enjoying a lovely autumn on the island. Please feel free to contact me at any time.

Ruth Milner
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife District Biologist
360-466-4345 ext 265