Are rattlesnakes on the rise in Central Oregon?

Some say so in wake of boy's bite; others say not

Are rattlers on the rise?

PRINEVILLE, Ore. - A day of fun at the Prineville Reservoir over the weekend took a turn for the worse when a little boy was bitten by a rattle snake.

"It jumped and bit me," 10-year-old Eithen Hamilton of Prineville said from his hospital bed Monday.

Fortunately, he will be okay. But this story hit close to home to residents in the area.

"My worst fear is my kids getting bit," Prineville mother Alice Quigley said Tuesday. "To tell you the truth, that is my worst fear."

Quigley has two little boys, three dogs and a handful of unwanted rattlers.

"We've been having a major rattlesnake issue," Quigley said.

The snakes are invading her space. She lives near a field with sage mice. She thinks she's seeing so many because their prey lives nearby.

"I've seen 18 on and around my 1.5 acres," Quigley said.

She says the snakes are putting her family at risk and that her young son has already come across a number of them. She is rightfully concerned, but the Prineville Reservoir park manager says this is not the norm.

"I've been here 11 years living on site, and I've only seen a handful of them the whole time I've been here," Steve Memminger said.

The snakes are no more common this year than last, he said.

"They prefer to stay away from people," Memminger added.

While that might be true, it's still best to be prepared.

Eithan Hamilton knows that it's possible.

"Keep your eye out for any snakes," he said.

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