OGDEN -- Summer is prime time to encounter rattlesnakes, when you're hiking or even working in the yard.
Most people who have hiked Utah's mountains were probably closer to a rattlesnake than they knew, thanks to the snake's camouflage.
Jason Jones, a wildlife biologist with the Division of Wildlife Resources, said an encounter with the slithering, venomous reptiles can be frightening, but doesn't have to be.
Jones noted in a news release that if you can find a safe place to observe the snake, "you'll have a chance to observe the behavior of one of the most unique critters in the world."
"Typically the problem is the person sees (the rattlesnake) and then harasses or tries to kill it, and they are typically the ones who end up with a snake bite," Jones said in an interview.
Most snakes are camouflaged to their surroundings, and when rattlesnakes are out, they are generally trying to find a mate or food.
Jones said if a person does encounter a rattlesnake, the best way to avoid being bitten is to give the snake its space.
Those venturing into the foothills or mountains should watch where they sit, plan to sit or put their hand.
Killing a rattlesnake is illegal since 2007. They are protected by law.
A hiker who meets up with a rattlesnake should remain calm, stay at least 5 feet away from the snake and should not try to kill it.
There are eight rattlesnake subspecies in Utah, and the most common is the Great Basin rattlesnake.
If a homeowner comes across a rattlesnake in the yard, the homeowner should it alone, "because in most cases, it is just heading from one location to another," Jones said. If the snake is a concern, the homeowner can call the DWR for an officer to assess the problem.
The DWR offers a free brochure, "Living with Venomous Reptiles," at www.swparc.org.
To learn more about snakes, go to www.wildawareutah.org/utah-wildlife-information.