WINNIPEG — A Manitoba researcher is shocked that someone has slain more than 50 garter snakes at the site of his study.
The sheer numbers of snakes in Manitoba's Interlake has made the area world famous, and University of Manitoba biology student Neil Balchan visits the area often for his research.
He says he's studying movement behaviour and climate effects on the reptiles as his honour thesis.
But this week he went to the site and there were "dead snakes everywhere."
Balchan says they appear to have been killed with rocks and sticks, and some were decapitated.
One snake even appears to have been shot in the head.
"This wouldn't have been a quick death at all," says Balchan. "And it obviously would have been very painful."
Balchan says he's puzzled why anyone would want to hurt the snakes, noting that they aren't venomous and don't pose any kind of threat.
"I have no explanation for it. I've been thinking and trying to rationalize it. And there's no reason in my mind that someone would go out into the wild and do that kind of damage to an animal."
Manitoba Sustainable Development says it is aware of the incident.
"While the incident as described is disturbing, we understand this incident was outside the Narcisse Wildlife Management Area, so in this case they would not be protected," says the department.
The Canadian Press