July 23, 2014 Edition

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Snakebites in state
relatively few in number

John Bland
Publisher

Snakes are always a topic at this time of year, and whether fact or fiction, a wet spring made us think the snake population was on the rise this year.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that in 2013, 128 Arkansans were bitten by snakes, according to statistics from the Arkansas Poison Control Center, which records that data from reports filed across the state.

Of the 128 reported snakebites, 36 of the bites were from nonpoisonous snakes, while 92 bites were from venomous snakes. Of those 92 bites, 63 of them were from copperheads, the state's most common pit viper.

Of particular note in the article was the fact that about half of the bites happen to people who are handling snakes, according to Howell Foster, director of the Poison Control Center. Victims tend to be young men, with alcohol consumption being a contributing factor.

The article also noted that the timber rattler is a shy and docile snake, and bites by these snakes are low in number. Although they are fairly widespread in the state, only one bite by a timber rattler was reported last year.

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People often ask me when the four lanes of Hwy. 67 will be completed to Hoxie.

Walter McMillan, District 10 Engineer with the Arkansas Highway Transportation Department, was recently quoted in the Pocahontas Star Herald that he feels completion of Highway 67 (four-lanes) to Hoxie in late 2015 is "a fair estimate." For the past several years, the highway's four lanes have extended to an area near Cash and just south of Swifton.

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