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Maine Researchers Watching Fungal Snake Disease

 BANGOR, Maine (AP) _ A fungus that's threatening some snake population in the eastern United States has not yet been seen in Maine.

    Derek Yorks, a biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, says the problems are seen in species like timber rattlesnakes, along with rat snakes and copperheads that sometimes live communally in the winter.

    He says Maine's most common species like garter snakes, red belly snakes and milk snakes don't tend to live communally, so there's less chance of the fungus spreading.

    He says there's concern that climate change could be contributing to the problem, allowing the fungus to thrive in dens where snakes spend the winter.

    Maine doesn't have to worry about timber rattlesnakes. Maine and Rhode Island are the only New England states that have no rattlers.