Protecting The Massasauga Rattlesnake

With the Massasauga rattlesnake rapidly declining in numbers, something had to be done and done fast.

What has emerged is a concerted effort to protect the species as well as the habitat it lives in. Let’s take a look at the acts and laws thast have been passed to protect this species from extinction.

The Massasauga rattlesnake is now protected under Ontario's Wildlife Conservation Act as well as the Ontario Endangered Species Act and the latter is a new act that is in place. Considering that there was a time when there was a price on this snake’s head when there were hardly any deaths that resulted from its bites, it is little wonder that its population has decreased so drastically. In Wisconsin, which is where this bounty was in effect till 1975, it has been out on the Wisconsin Endangered and Threatened Species List. What is sad is the fact that the increasing hog population here is also responsible for its decrease as hogs are the creature’s natural predators. Add to this the clearing up of the wetlands and you’ll see why it has been a recipe for disaster when it comes to its survival. This has meant that the habitats in which it survives has been marginalized to very few out of the way areas.

Unfortunately, human beings fear the very word ‘rattlesnake’ and so even now, some are not happen with it being put on these endangered lists. There have also been instances where they were caught and sold as exotic pets – however, thanks to these acts, that activity has been declared illegal.

The Natural Heritage wing of the Provincial Policy Statement under Ontario's Planning Act has also done its part by protecting the environment and habitat where these snakes as well as other fauna and flora are found and this has gone a long way in ensuring that more do not die. Since it has been declared endangered in the early nineties, there has been a lot of monitoring and though the numbers are still not healthy, at least it has stopped the decline. The other poisonous snake from this area, the Timber rattlesnake is probably extinct and no sightings have been recorded for years.