Scorpions found in Keizer Rapids Park were brought to Keizer Fire District on Wednesday, July 17 (Photo submitted by Keizer Fire District).
On Wednesday, July 17, the on-duty personnel at Keizer Fire District (KFD) were greeted with a unique situation when a concerned citizen brought four Pacific Northwest scorpions to the station.
The scorpions were found by a concerned citizen, trapped in a Red Vines Licorice container inside one of the bathrooms at Keizer Rapids Park. Since the container was close to the play structure, the citizen brought the scorpions to KFD for safety reasons.
From there, it was up to Chief Jeff Cowan on how to proceed further.
“We knew we needed to contact Public Safety to figure out what the next steps were,” Cowan said. “We didn’t want to cut them lose, but we also didn’t want to kill them.”
City of Keizer Police, Parks Department and other KFD staff members were also notified of the situation.
After contacting the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Cowan was referred to the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA).
Tom Valente, an entomologist with ODA, confirmed that the species is the native Pacific Northwest Forest Scorpion, Uroctonus mordax, which can be found throughout the Willamette Valley.
Because they are nocturnal, the species is commonly unseen.
“All of us knew that they were scorpions, we just didn’t know that they were right in our backyard,” Cowan said.
While the scorpions do appear scary, they are not poisonous and not particularly hostile according to Valente.
“Although they can sting (and do sting their prey when hunting), they ‘play dead’ rather than trying to sting when disturbed,” Valente told KFD.
Under the care of entomologists’ at ODA, the scorpions will travel to multiple outreach events this summer, including the Oregon State Fair.
“It all turned out well, even for the scorpions,” Cowan said.