GALVESTON — Signs warning courthouse visitors to keep off the grass took on a sense of urgency this week after attorneys and deputies snapped photographs of rattlesnakes resting in the courthouse’s tall, ornamental grass.
The pictures show rattlesnakes, some at least a foot long, basking in the sun’s warming rays.
“We have this problem for a few weeks every year,” said Bonnie Quiroga, director of the Office of Justice Administration, noting snakes, coyotes and opossums emerge from the low, wet and overgrown land nearby.
This week marks the third straight year warning signs were posted outside the courthouse, 600 59th St., in Galveston. Emails also were sent to employees warning of the snakes, Quiroga said.
The signs warn parents not to leave children unattended and urge everyone to stay on the sidewalks.
Workers put bait out for the snakes, County Judge Mark Henry said.
“There have been no reported bites that I’m aware of,” he said.
Signs urge anyone spotting a snake to report it to the security desk. Deputy Tammy Thomas snapped a few photos Nov. 1 of Deputy Ruben Ornelas using a baton to collect a foot-long rattler. Attorney Mark Diaz also took photos of a rattler curled at the base of bunch of grass.
In September, one small rattlesnake was found inside the ground-floor tunnel that connects the jail with the courthouse, Chief Deputy Vic Maceo of the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office said, noting pest control was called.
“Now that it’s cold, we won’t have to worry about it for a couple of months,” Maceo said.
Meanwhile, officials are exploring landscaping options other than the tall, ornamental grass, said Charles Kenworthy, facilities manager for the county.
The warning signs likely will remain in place until the first of December, Quiroga said. There have been no reports of snake sightings this week, possibly because of the cooler weather.
Attorney Mark Stevens quipped that he interviewed one of the snakes, which resented any implication that it might be a lawyer.