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Rattlesnake Bite in Western Wisconsin?

UPDATE: The DNR confirmed it is NOT a rattlesnake, rather a Northern Watersnake.

Monday night's story:
A Cornell man says he was attacked by what he thinks is a rattlesnake Monday afternoon while fishing.

Jim Overton says coming from South Dakota, he's used to the idea of rattlesnakes, but you may be surprised to find out we have two kinds of rattlesnakes in Wisconsin.

When Jim Overton went fishing at the Cornell dam along the Chippewa River, he didn't expect this kind of bite.

They were fishing off a concrete slab, near the rocks when Jim says he heard the snake. They tried to go around it, but it bit Jim before he could move.

He says it bit him in the hand, he tore the snake off his hand, and then took the snake's head off.

There was still a fang in his hand. His fishing buddy took it out and Jim decided to cut his wrist, and suck the venom out.

He says he was more worried about his friends, "it got me instead of them, so I felt better," Overton said.

According to the DNR, there are 2 venomous rattlesnakes in Wisconsin, the Massasauga and the Timber. The DNR says they are exceedingly rare. The Massasauga is endangered. The Timber rattlesnake is protected.

The DNR says since 1900, one person in Wisconsin has died from a bite. There have been a handful of Timber rattlesnake bites since 1982.

The DNR says since the Timber snake is protected, you can only kill one in a life-threatening situation involving human life or the life of your pets. There's no indication what the laws are for the Massauaga, but when it came time to figure out what to do, Jim could only think of the old cowboy movies where they sucked the venom out themselves.

Jim says he didn't go to the hospital but felt sick, "hard-headed I guess," Overton says.

As for Jim, he says he's feeling better and doesn't plan on going to the hospital. He and his fishing buddies left the river with a fish tale they won't soon forget.

The DNR says if you come upon a rattlesnake, avoid it, if you are bitten, get medical help within the hour, and call the hospital ahead of time. The DNR does not recommend cutting yourself or sucking the venom out.

They also say don't kill the rattlesnake, just get away from it. Here's the rattlesnake hotline 1 (888) 74SNAKE.

We did speak with a DNR spokesman, but because of the late hour in which we got the video back from Cornell, we were unable to confirm with DNR biologists that the snake was an actual rattlesnake.

UPDATED INFORMATION: The DNR says it is a Northern Water Snake, and is non-venomous.
To learn more about Northern Water Snakes:
Click Here.

To learn more about Timber snake:
click here.

To learn more about Massasauga snakes:
Click Here.

To see a picture of a Massasauga snake:
Click Here.

To see a picture of a Timber snake:
Click Here.


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