Battles between man and beast have raged since the dawn of humanity. Sometimes the human loses, but more often than not, the beast loses. It is the way of nature that species must compete for space and resources, but humans are the dominant force on the planet, and that often spells disaster for the animals. What animals need is a human ambassador to advocate on their behalf.
For the past eight years, an ambassador is just what some of the most maligned creatures along the Wasatch Front have had. Since 2014, Wasatch Snake Removal, helmed by Dave Jensen, has been saving lives. Although some lives were possibly human (although no one has died from snakebite in Utah for nearly 100 years), most were definitely rattlesnakes.
Like it or not, Utah is snake country, and we share our desert home with many snake species. Unfortunately, ophidiophobia (fear of snakes) has caused the demise of many innocent serpents for no good reason, and while some may point to venom as justification for their fear or hatred, the only venomous snakes in Utah are rattlesnakes, which means that all the rest are completely harmless to humans.
Snakes are essential for maintaining balance and harmony in the natural world, and they help us by getting rodents out of places we can’t go, reducing disease transmission and property damage from those ever-growing rodent teeth.
Even rattlesnakes are far more beneficial than they are dangerous. A rattlesnake’s threat to a human is very limited. Utah’s rattlers are small, and while they can strike quickly, they move slowly, and you must be within striking range for there to be any threat at all. Snakes don’t want to bite us, and by simply taking a step backward and walking away, you can completely eliminate the potential for danger.
Dave Jensen and his team of snake removal experts at Wasatch Snake Removal have provided fast, safe, professional snake removal for home and business owners who found themselves in a land dispute with a snake, removing and relocating the animal for a nominal fee. Snakes are captured humanely and transported to suitable habitat in accordance with state law, to continue their existence elsewhere. With Dave around, everyone, including the snakes, came out winners, and he did it all out of a heart intent on kindness and service.
“Rattlesnakes aren’t the invaders―humans are,” Jensen says. “More people each year are realizing this and don’t want to see a snake harmed. This awareness, I believe, is the most gratifying part of snake removal. It’s a win/win because it benefits both snakes and humans, and whether most people realize it or not, humans need snakes.”
Due to a health issue, Dave reluctantly planned on retiring at the end of last year, hesitant to leave Salt Lake homeowners in the lurch, but unable to safely capture snakes. With summer approaching, his absence would have been conspicuous.
“It feels like I’m giving up a big chunk of myself,” Jensen explains. “I love these animals, and I love teaching people about them. It’s a huge part of who I am.”
Jensen did the job solo for the first few years, until it became more than a one-man job. But for the past several years he has had a team to assist him, and it was they who insisted on keeping Wasatch Snake Removal going, at least through 2022.
“We’re going to give it a try,” Jensen says, “but I don’t want my people to get burned out or have to turn customers away because of inadequate staffing. My team is fantastic, but they all have jobs and families and may not always respond immediately. That was where I came in. I hope our customers will understand this and be patient with us.”
When confronted with a snake in their yard, responsible people are happy to pay Dave or one of his team members for their time and effort to remove it. And while it’s illegal to kill rattlesnakes in the state of Utah, the simple truth is that it’s cheaper to dispatch a misplaced animal with a shovel.
For that reason, the niche that Dave has filled is not market viable. You can’t make a living out of relocating snakes in Utah, but Dave did it out of pure passion for the snakes. As Dave describes it, “There’s something extremely gratifying about removing an animal from a potentially threatening situation and returning it to the wild. After all, we owe these animals something. We moved in and destroyed their habitat. They’re not in our territory,” he says, “we’re in theirs.”
Rattlesnakes are mostly helpless and incredibly easy to kill, so to make his services a viable option, Dave had to charge just enough to offset his costs, which, like everything else, have increased over the years. He also gave up his summers to serve his customers.
Because snake removal is such a vital public service, Mike Parmley of Barley’s Dog Grooming has stepped forward with plans to relocate snakes, and he hopes to be up and running by next summer. Mike already teaches snake avoidance training for dogs, making him the logical choice for snake removal as well. The transition from one snake removal company to another means that homeowners won’t have their requests for snake removal go unanswered.
As long as humans continue to encroach on nature, snake conflicts are sure to increase, and rattlesnakes are likely to be the ones punished for it. But not if Wasatch Snake Removal can help it.
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