7-foot boa found near Lock and Dam 13

Submitted photoMark Nettles captured this 7-foot boa constrictor near Lock and Dam 13 in Fulton, Illinois.

FULTON, Ill. — With rumors circulating, Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge staff were recently advised to be on the lookout for something that is not seen in this area.

This week that rumor was confirmed.

Mark Nettles, a Corps of Engineers employee, was on his way to work Wednesday morning when he spotted a boa constrictor laying alongside the road near Lock and Dam 13 in Fulton. Nettles rescued the 7-foot long snake, which could barely move due to the cold temperatures. He loaded the boa into the bed of his truck and notified the refuge.

This is confirmation of an earlier photograph this summer and rumors circulating along the Mississippi River area. Logan Foster, of Fulton, was traveling along the road to his favorite fishing hole at Lock and Dam 13 on July 23 when he observed a large snake laying along the road. Foster took a picture of the snake that was identified as a boa constrictor. Many native species of snakes are present in the Mississippi River area but boa constrictors are not one of them.

To help save the boa constrictor caught by Nettles, several callswere made by the refuge to find someone who would accept this large boa constrictor. Don Decker, a snake savior and educator from Cedar Rapids, adopted the boa and took it home to join the rest of his snake family.

Refuge staff encourages snake lovers that no longer want their pets, to reach out and find someone to adopt the pet rather than releasing it into the wild.

There are many types of exotic pets being commercially sold that aren’t native to the area. Some of these end up being released into the wild, perhaps in this case. Boas and other mild temperate animals will not survive the area's harsh winters and would die a slow, painful death. Refuge staff encourages the public to report unusual sightings of wildlife (especially exotic wildlife), for the health of the pet, humans and the environment.