Park rangers warn of state's deadliest creatures - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Park rangers warn of state's deadliest creatures

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It's that time of year when we can finally start getting outside and enjoying the nice weather. But with that comes some precautions you should take.

Wildlife experts at the New River Gorge National River are warning about potentially lethal creatures that might be lurking.

"It may not have the biggest teeth or the sharpest claws, but it can defend itself," says Park Ranger, Leah Perkowski-Sisk.

Copperhead and Timber Rattle snakes are the two venomous snakes in Southern West Virginia. Their copper and brown tones blend in with the brush. Black Widow spiders are the only venomous spider in the area. They have an hourglass shaped mark on their abdomens.

Perkowski-Sisk has been a park ranger at the New River Gorge National River for more than 20 years. She said the park's venomous residents are more of a treat to see, than something to fear.

"It's very rare you're going to encounter what some people may consider a dangerous animal," she said.

But people like Anthony Carlino are here to see something they've never seen before.

"Anything other than deer," said Carlino, a scenic photographer. He said he's ready for any close encounters.

"I've got a can of mase in a vest and a big loud whistle that usually scares anything away,"he said.

Perkowski-Sisk said most people walk right by this kind of wildlife without even realizing it.

"They may be surprised how many they walk past and don't see."

Park rangers said wildlife use the trails just as much as people do, but they say before you see them, they'll see you.

"If you do see them, it's not a big deal, don't be alarmed," said Perkowski-Sisk.

Park rangers advise to keep your distance; watch where you're stepping and reaching.

"They come to the point where they need to defend themselves, you may come out on the losing end," said Perkowski-Sisk.

Wildlife experts said if you are bitten, don't try to treat it yourself. The only thing you should do is get to the nearest hospital as soon as possible. It's usually only bites that go untreated that can be deadly.