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Yosemite Can't Catch a Break

COVID-19, hazardous air quality, and rattlesnakes
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2020 1:20 PM CDT

(Newser) – Bad things come in threes, at least as far as one national park is concerned. In addition to COVID's impact and hazardous air quality due to the approach of wildfires on its southern edge, Yosemite is dealing with a "noticeable uptick" in rattlesnake bites, per park officials. Two hikers had to be helicoptered out of the park recently after bites; both survived. The first bite happened in the Tuolumne River on August 26, where a man in his mid-30s was fishing without shoes on shifted a rock while stepping onto a bank, reports the Mercury News. The snake emerged and bit his left foot. The second victim was bitten on the knee days later while on a group hike. A snake emerged from low brush with "no rattle, no hiss, no sound whatsoever," per a witness. SFGate notes there isn't always a rattle warning, as baby snakes are without them and rattles can break off snakes that have them.

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The park advises visitors who do see a snake to keep as much distance as possible, as rattlesnakes are able to strike a distance of only half their own length. If you are bitten, don't apply a tourniquet or ice or try to suck out the venom. Park officials also share the lengths the first victim's wife went to in order to get him help. After realizing he couldn't hike and they didn't have cell service, she walked through the night, "taking a short nap when she was overcome by fatigue," until she came upon a hiker with a satellite messenger device. That was more than 18 hours after the bite. The officials noted that before leaving her husband she "had the presence of mind to pin their location on her phone," which made it easier for rescuers to quickly reach him. (Read more rattlesnake stories.)

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