Southern California environment news and trends

Rattlesnake season arrives early in the Southland

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Now that spring is in full swing and the unofficial arrival of summer is upon us with Memorial Day weekend, outdoor enthusiasts aren’t the only ones getting an early start on sun-kissed activities. According to the L.A. Zoo and California Poison Control System, the local rattlesnake population is coming out of hibernation early this year, with the potential of a larger snake infestation than usual.

“Fatality, loss of limb, some really severe injuries, medical procedures are necessary to save limbs and life,” said Fish & Game biologist Kevin Brennan about the grisly results of a rattlesnake bite to CBS Local. Officials estimate that California sees one or two fatal rattlesnake bites annually.

Hikers and anyone spending extended time roaming through brush areas are encouraged to wear long pants that cover shoe tops, and to bypass areas where the ground is not fully visible. With a “bumper crop” of baby rattlesnake births expected this season, don’t think the little ones are any less dangerous. Their venom is just as poisonous.

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VIDEO: Watch LA County Sheriff’s daring rescue in Eaton Canyon

If you enjoy walking the canyons of Los Angeles County, you’ve likely watched a helicopter or two sweep in to rescue fellow hikers who have overestimated their climbing skills. While most of us stick to the designated trails, others like to venture off into the great unknown. This sometimes leads to dramatic, white-knuckled moments of hikers clinging to cliff sides, unable to move up or down.

Fortunately, the Los Angeles County Sheriff has us covered. The above rescue was performed by L.A. County Sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau Emergency Services Detail (SEB-ESD) Air Rescue 5. Dangling from the cable is Deputy Sheriff Mark Desmarteau, who rescued these two hikers on September 11, 2011 in the Knife Ridge section of Eaton Canyon

We spoke with team member Lieutenant Jack W. Ewell about the daring rescue and how the public can avoid a similar meet-and-greet with an L.A. County Sheriff.

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