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Snake doctor: NIU researcher Kristin Stanford has her hands full, dirty tonight on PBS station

November 2, 2011
Kristin Stanford

Kristin Stanford

For those who didn’t get enough thrills and chills on Halloween, NIU researcher and Ph.D. student Kristin Stanford, aka the “Island Snake Lady” of Ohio’s Put-in-Bay Harbor, will be featured tonight on San Fransisco PBS station KQED.

Fortunately, you don’t have to live in the city by the bay to check out the video, which includes chill-inducing footage of Stanford plunging her hands into a nest of Lake Erie water snakes.

Stanford has been working with the threatened species for years.

In fact, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has honored both Stanford and NIU biological sciences professor Rich King, known as the godfather of the Lake Erie Water Snake, for their ongoing work with the slithery creatures.

The region encompassing the islands and mainland of Lake Erie between the Ohio and Ontario borders is the only place worldwide where the Lake Erie Water Snake can be found. Stanford and King have made such significant headway in protecting the water snake that it was removed in August from the list of federally endangered and threatened species.

King and his students have monitored the snake population for nearly three decades, and Stanford’s work has often been featured in the media, including on Discovery Channel’s popular program “Dirty Jobs.”

It’s safe to say the job has its hazards. Both King and Stanford have been bitten thousands of times.