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Athol, Mass. • Residents in a Massachusetts town near Quabbin Reservoir Island will have the opportunity to sound off on the state's plan to create a refuge for endangered rattlesnakes on the uninhabited island. A legislative committee scheduled a public hearing in Athol for Tuesday on the controversial proposal. Critics fear the venomous rattlesnakes could swim off the island and attack hikers or hunters in surrounding woods.

State officials, including Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, have insisted such concerns are unfounded. They defend the plan as necessary to protect the snakes from possible extinction in Massachusetts.

The Associated Press