NewsCovering Kentucky


EKU Studying Copperheads In The Gorge

Posted at 6:36 PM, Aug 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-28 18:36:07-04

(LEX 18) — Love them or hate them, snakes are a part of our ecosystems. 

Eastern Kentucky University researches say that you have a higher likelihood of running into a copperhead snake at the Red River Gorge than many other parts of the state. 

Dr. Stephen Richter told LEX 18 that people should have a healthy fear in regards to copperhead snakes that he said live in abundance at the Red River Gorge. 

They use openings in the forest to warm their bodies so they can go and eat and breathe and things for life, and those are the areas where we’re hiking, camping and climbing,” said Richter.

One man who has hiked the Gorge for years said he saw a Copperhead this weekend.

I was making my way down the trail and then about 15 feet in front of me, I noticed a snake coming at me,” said Bill Wilcox. “It went this way, and I went this way. I got off the trail a bit and kept going.”

EKU has a group of students who come out to the Gorge to study the snakes. They’ve put microchips in eight snakes and follow them around the forest. Richter said that this is with the goal of understanding how people can mutually live in those areas without conflict.

The students collect data to help the forest service figure out how to decrease the number of people running in to the venomous snakes.

Richter said that a copperhead has a candy-like pattern. 

A triangle that comes like a Hershey’s kiss and it’s wider at the bottom and narrowest at the top across the back and across the saddle,” said Richter. “Most people are bitten because they’re trying to harass them or they may not see them and just get too close.”

Although copperheads rarely bite and their venom is mild, if you are bitten, call 9-1-1.