Weber State University’s Receiving and Distribution Services Building has been partially closed temporarily due to several rattlesnakes being found in the building. Employees have been encouraged to take some time off until reptile experts have deemed the building safe to work in again.
Brad Colby, mail center lead and the first to find a snake, said because of a miscommunication, some employees are still working in the building today, though they are exercising caution.
“Property Control and Printing are still here,” he said. “I really thought we were staying home. It’s just insane.”
According to Norm Tarbox, vice president of Administrative Services, there are two main hypotheses being explored so far as to why snakes are in the building. First, a pregnant snake could have found her way into the building over the summer and laid eggs inside. A second option could be that a nest is nearby, and the young snakes are looking for a warmer place to den for the winter.
“There is just a lot of activity in that area right now,” he said. “But I have no idea.”
Despite the snakes being found on campus, Tarbox said students shouldn’t be worried, and there will be no disruption to regular classes or events.
“I do know we haven’t had problems like this in the past,” Tarbox said.
Tarbox also said this case is unique to campus.
“For us to have so many in such a confined space in such a short amount of time is very unusual,” he said.
A reptile expert checked the building Wednesday and set several traps. Tarbox said the expert felt confident the building was safe after his initial evaluation, but a second expert was brought in Thursday. Colby said in addition to sweeping the building for snakes, the expert sealed any cracks or holes found in walls and doors. Colby also said one of the likely answers as to how the snakes are getting in is doors being left open.
“My problem was it wasn’t too cold the day I saw the snake,” Colby said. “Other than carelessness, I don’t understand why they would be coming in here.”
John Kowalewski, WSU Media Relations director, said if any snakes are found, they will be relocated to a safe area away from campus. Tarbox confirmed this and said the snakes will not be killed if possible.
“To the degree possible, we will relocate the snakes to a safe locale, but alive,” he said.
For employees taking time off until the building is cleared, it will be considered paid leave, said both Tarbox and Kowalewski.
“It’s like a snow day,” Tarbox said.
Kowalewski said, because the situation is out of the employees’ control, the university will definitely give them paid time off.
“Recognizing that it is a safety issue, we don’t want to put anyone in an uncomfortable situation,” he said.
It is still unknown how long the building will be partially closed. Kowalewski said some of the decision to reopen the building will be made after the reptile experts have made their final report about the building and surrounding trails.
“We’re looking to use that expertise to help us assess the situation,” he said.