Must be a bad year for snakes. Look what was found in downtown Charleston....
sighting causes stir
Daily Mail staff
Friday June 09, 2006
On a normal day, Dave Riebe is a typical Charleston parking meter enforcement supervisor.
But for one moment Thursday, Riebe stopped writing tickets downtown and became a snake wrangler.
Riebe was among more than 20 Charleston citizens who were startled by the appearance of what seemed to be a copperhead on Capitol Street. The snake was first spotted wrapped around a lamppost outside of Ivor's Trunk boutique.
The incident occurred during the Thursday lunch hour.
Riebe, 37, was working in the area when he joined a group of people gawking at the creature.
People who saw the snake believed it was a copperhead, and a state natural resources official who later saw pictures said it very well could have been. But sometimes non-poisonous snakes with similar markings are mistaken for copperheads.
Nevertheless, the snake caused a furor downtown.
"Well, at first I knew I wasn't going to go pick it up," Riebe said. "We were all trying to wait for someone to come and get it."
After some careful thought, Riebe and fellow meter enforcement officer Pat Jones decided to step in and remove the serpent. Using a stick, Riebe picked the snake up, keeping it at a safe distance from any of his extremities.
"I wasn't just going to go grab it with my bare hands," Riebe said. "We all were just trying not to get hit by it."
Riebe placed the snake inside a cake pan on loan from the nearby Chesapeake Bagel Bakery. He then set it free along the river near the Kanawha Boulevard.
Ann Booth was walking to a business meeting when she joined the curious throng. She took out her cellular telephone to take pictures of the scene to preserve its posterity.
Booth is an associate with Charleston public relations firm, Maple Creative
"I saw this snake being carted around in some kind of sandwich tray box," Booth said. "And I just couldn't believe it. I mean the Legislature is not even in town."
Copperheads are usually found in swampy, wooded or rocky areas.
Kathy Leo, wildlife diversity coordinator for the state Division of Natural Resources in Elkins, examined one of the photographs that Booth took with her cell phone and declared the image too small to be decisive. She said the snake appeared to be a copperhead from the markings on the body, although she couldn't confirm anything because she couldn't clearly see the head.
Copperheads have triangular heads, Leo said.
"Copperheads are the most widespread of the venomous snakes," Leo said. "You can find them pretty much anywhere, but they are usually found along streams."
Various reports from the scene said the snake might have bitten a passerby who tried to pick it up.
Dan Combs, manager of Dynamic Displays at 231 Capitol St., said a man wearing a green T-shirt and a baseball cap approached the snake. The snake then snapped at the man, Combs said.
"He just went in to pick it up with his bare hands," Combs, 47, said. "The snake got kind of excited and bit him. Then the guy just walked away like it was nothing."
Riebe said it didn't appear the snake got his full fangs inside the guy's arm.
"I don't think it really bit him," Riebe said. "That snake definitely looked out of place."
Contact writer Matthew Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org