More than 500 garter snakes were returned to their home on Boundary Bay Dike in Delta on Sunday following a successful rescue and recovery mission involving the Wildlife Rescue Association of BC.
The snakes were unearthed at the beginning of March during repair work on a rock dike being carried out by SNC-Lavalin on behalf of The Corporation of Delta. Before construction commenced, biologists had a wildlife rescue plan in case any snakes were disturbed. The plan was put in action immediately after local residents noticed a possible snake hibernaculum (hibernation den) under the rocks.
On the first day of the work, the rescue team recovered 12 snakes. Three days later, more than 500 Garter snakes had been rescued from the site, making it the largest discovery of its kind in BC. The snakes were transferred to Wildlife Rescue’s facilities in Burnaby where they were placed in plastic tubs with dampened wood shavings and water. The containers were placed in a cool and quiet location on site to allow the snakes to continue their brumation (a reptilian version of hibernation). Every two days, rehab staff checked on the snakes, changed their water and ensured that their bedding remained moist.
The snakes were identified as Terrestrial Garter snakes. While most went straight back into hibernation a few that were injured were treated by Wildlife Rescue. Some of these snakes are still at the Care Centre and will be released at a later date.
More than 400 of the larger snakes were tagged prior to release so that a team of biologists can follow their progress over the next few days and throughout the rest of the year.