ATHOL (CBS/AP) — State Sen. Anne Gobi has organized a hearing on the state’s plan to create a refuge for endangered rattlesnakes on an uninhabited Quabbin Reservoir island.

A legislative committee has scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday on the controversial proposal. According to the town’s website, the public will be allowed to attend and submit written comments, but only invited guests will be permitted to speak.

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Critics fears that the venomous timber rattlesnakes could swim off the island and attack people hiking or hunting 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.

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Baker recently acknowledged, however, that the state could have done a better job of explaining the plan to local residents.

The hearing by the Committee on Natural Resources and Agriculture is scheduled for 11 a.m. at Athol Town Hall.

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