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Snake-proofing schools

Hart district looks for ways to keep reptiles from slithering onto campus

Posted: November 25, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 25, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Members of the Golden Valley High School junior varsity soccer team walk past a rattlesnake caution sign posted on the track at Golden Valley High School. Photo by Signal photographer Dan Watson.

Hart district officials are looking to shed a problem of rattlesnakes making their way onto school campuses by installing special fencing to keep the creatures out.

Rattlesnakes have been known to slither their way onto Santa Clarita Valley school campuses that border vacant land, posing at least a nuisance and potentially a danger to students.

To prevent that, members of the William S. Hart Union High School District board voted last week to approve a $48,000 contract to install approximately 7,570 linear feet of snake fence around three schools: Golden Valley High School, West Ranch High School and Rancho Pico Junior High School, all of which have portions of campus that border open land where snakes could roam.

“We do not have this type of fencing at other schools right now,” district spokeswoman Gail Pinsker said. “We have experienced a snake problem at the three schools that we are proposing to fence.”

Athletic fields are a particularly favored slithery habitat, according to officials.

“They come onto the fields where the grass is nice and cool,” said Michael Otavka, director of facilities for the Hart district.

Fencing that keeps snakes out must be a narrow mesh that attaches to existing perimeter fence.

“This should deter snakes compared to regular chain-link fencing with openings large enough for snakes to slither through,” Pinsker wrote in an email.

The snake fencing would be attached to existing fencing and go about three to four feet up the fence.

This should stymie most snakes looking to slide under the existing fence and make it unlikely they will be able to wiggle over, Pinsker said.

“This is needed,” said board member Gloria Mercado-Fortine during Wednesday’s board meeting. “I remember one of the coaches at Golden Valley saying, ‘There are just so many snakes during practice.’” 

Hart district board members voted unanimously Wednesday to award the $48,000 fencing contract to California Fencing Inc., which is based in Quartz Hill.
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