(Photo courtesy of David Kacynski)
The annual fall tradition is upon us, when officials at Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois close the infamous Snake Road to allow scores of slithering snakes and other reptiles and amphibians to safely migrate without the potential of getting squished by a vehicle.
The closure, which runs from September 1 through October 30, was announced on Monday morning.
Even though the road will be closed to vehicles, it will remain open to foot traffic for nature lovers who don't do this at the sight of a snake:
Over the next two months, the creatures will be making a gradual migration from their summer home at LaRue Swamp to their winter hibernation spots on the other side of Snake Road.
The road is a popular spot for those interested in witnessing the migration due to the rich diversity of species that can be seen. Approximately 66 percent of the amphibian species and 59 percent of the reptile species that occur in Illinois can be found there.
More than a dozen snake species will travel across the road, including some venemous ones, the copperhead and western cottonmouth among them.
Closing Snake Road is crucial to the survival of these species. Prior to 1972, the 2.5-mile stretch of road was open to traffic year-round, but a significant number of animals were killed each year during migration.
And for those keeping score at home, while Will County doesn't have a Snake Road, we do have some wonderful wild snakes.