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For Goodness' Snake

Caring for the animal kingdom's most misunderstood member

In his time as an ACO, Bruce Dangerfield has saved hundreds of lives. But not everyone is grateful: Many of the lives he’s saved belong to snakes.

Dangerfield is a snake aficionado. When he moved to Florida at age 11, he caught a little one, and went around asking what kind it was, only to have four different neighbors give him four different answers. A visit to his school library found few resources to help, either, and so Dangerfield gleaned what he could from the books there, and started learning more from any source he could find.

The snake capture of his boyhood led him to a lifelong interest in herpetology. As the lone ACO for the city of Vero Beach, Fla., Dangerfield now deals with many different kinds of animals, but few are as feared or misunderstood as snakes. In his classes on hunter education and outdoors living, he’s often able to teach people about snakes. When they know a little more about the animals, he says, they become less afraid, and less inclined to freak out and do violence to snakes they encounter.

But many people aren’t reachable, he says. They’re ignorant about snakes, and perfectly happy to remain so—even in his area, which he describes as “the snake capital of Florida” due to its subtropical climate.

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