LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Days before the start of the official summer season, city and state officials warned Southland residents to be aware of a potential rattlesnake population boom.

KNX 1070’s John Brooks reports hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts should be especially alert when it comes to encountering a snake in the wild.

Officials with the Los Angeles Zoo and California Poison Control System (CPCS) were at the Los Angeles Zoo on Wednesday to remind residents that rattlesnakes are emerging from hibernation earlier in 2012, which may see a greater snake infestation after heavy rains pummeled the region a few years ago.

Rattlesnakes are also the only native venomous snakes in Southern California, which is just one reason why Fish & Game biologist Kevin Brennan said people should take every possible precaution.

“Fatality, loss of limb, some really severe injuries, medical procedures are necessary to save limbs and life,” said Brennan.

Officials said residents should be aware that mother snakes are expected to give birth to a bumper crop of babies later this fall, and even newly hatched rattlesnakes possess dangerous venom.

Anyone planning on spending any prolonged period of time in brush areas should wear long pants that extend all the way over shoe tops and to avoid walking in areas where the ground surface is not completely visible.

Officials estimated that one to two rattlesnake bites each year in California are fatal.

“Simply avoiding the snakes is the number one thing you can do to try to avoid having a snake bite you in the first place,” said Dr. Cyrus Rangan of the CPCS. “But once a snake bit does occur, we want to make sure that people exercise the appropriate first aid in order to make sure you get to the hospital and get the appropriate care.”


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