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Wed., Sep. 2
Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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Massena snake still apparently at large


MASSENA - Todd Goolden had the “great snake hunt” all planned out at his Marie Street residence on the night of Aug. 3.

He left work at 5 p.m. that day, gathered some of his friends and some beers and patrolled his property in search of the slithering creatures. There was only problem: the three snakes he had seen the night before near his house, one of which he described as over five feet long, never showed.

“The great snake hunt didn’t produce,” he said. “We didn’t have any luck. I have not seen one and I’ve been out every night looking.”

It’s been over one week since village police descended upon Marie Street three different times to reports of multiple snakes in the area. One of the snakes was described as five feet long, while the other two were approximately half its size. Mr. Goolden and nearby resident Mark Mittiga said they had not seen so much as a garden snake in nearly 20 years of living in their neighborhood before they saw the creatures.

The quiet since that night has been unsettling, Mr. Goolden said.

“I’m on the defensive until someone says they caught them,” Mr. Goolden said. “I’m always looking over my shoulder .... It’s almost like they’re moving from my neighborhood.”

Police have responded to at least one more snake call over the last week. A nearly five-foot long snake was seen near dusk Wednesday close to the intersection of Ames and Beach Streets. Police again searched and found nothing.

Suzanne McLean lives on Ames and owns an adjacent yard at the corner of Beach. Village police received a report Wednesday night of a snake chasing a cat out of the lilac bush on her corner property. Police then searched her property with flashlights and a long stick with a noose on it.

Ms. McLean kept her two dogs inside that night.

“It’s the not knowing ... You don’t know what to believe,” she said. “It was pretty nerve wracking. It still kind of is.”

Sergeant Patrick Serguson said the report of that snake was also approximately five feet long, like the one seen on Marie Street. If it’s the same snake, the creature would have crossed over North Main Street at some point.

Sgt. Serguson said information gathered by police indicates the five-foot snake is a boa constrictor, a type that hunts by wrapping itself around its prey. Boas are not venomous snakes.

“That’s what most people are claiming it is,” he said. “If they actually happen to see it, give us a call.”

He had also heard the two smaller snakes that were originally reported “weren’t around anymore” but wasn’t sure why.

Both village and town Clerks Patricia Dumas and Georgette Davis said they had not issued any permits for exotic animals within the village limits. State law requires anyone with a venomous snake, as well as constrictors and pythons 10 feet or longer must be registered with the municipality.

Mayor James F. Hidy said he is surprised there have not been more sightings of the large snake.

“I’m puzzled no one has seen the thing. You’d think it’d be out in the road,” he said. “We have to take it seriously before it comes to resolution.”

Mr. Hidy added he hoped none of the sightings were a hoax, and for a quick resolution to the uncertainty.

The snake sightings are prompting unease among village residents Karla J. Malark of East Orvis Street knows. Ms. Malark said her daughter lives near where the Wednesday night sighting was and is nervous about it. Ms. Malark said she hopes the snake does not swim across the Grasse River toward her residence.

“I don’t know if it will come across the bridge or not,” she said. “You don’t want to walk outside and walk into a snake.”

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