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West Virginia Wildlife
Snakes In The Classroom
Katelyn Sykes Knowledge Over Fear

May 21, 2014
Reporter: Katelyn Sykes
Videographer: Brad Rice


DUNBAR, W.Va. (Katelyn Sykes) -- Some people fear them while others think they are pretty cool.

We are talking about snakes. There are 22 different species of snakes found across West Virginia, and a group of kids at Dunbar Primary got up close and personal with a few of them.

Jim Fregonara is a snake expert with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources and takes his knowledge of these misunderstood creatures to classrooms across the state.

"Most of the things people hear about snakes isn't true," he said. "They learn it off of TV, off of Hollywood movies and all that's hype, all fake. And I think it's important that the kids just know the facts that snakes belong in the environment, just like any other animal. "

The black snake is just one of 22 different species found in West Virginia, and one Fregonara took to the classrooms so these kids could see and touch. He said this education is important, not only because of the misconceptions associated with snakes but because they play an important role in the environment. They are vital to the food web and help control the rodent population.

Another important reason Fregonara wants to talk to kids at a young age is to alleviate fears associated with snakes.

"People taught me to be scared of them, stay away from them. That they're evil, they're slimy, they're nasty," he said. "And then slowly I got used to them and I read a little bit more about them and somebody had a nonvenomous snake that let me handle and I found wow, these are kind of neat. They're cool; they're scaly.

"It's just neat seeing the kids reactions and how some kids might be scared of snakes and after a while they might reach out and actually touch one and they'll find out that snakes are really interesting; they're unique animals," he said.

And he hopes kids will not have a hate for or be afraid of these unique creatures. Instead, he wants them to leave them alone and appreciate their effect on the environment.

LEARN MORE at the W. Va. DNR


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