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SECTION 5 LIVING NEAR ONTARIO’S EASTERN MASSASAUGA RATTLESNAKE

In southern Ontario, widespread urban and rural development has greatly reduced the amount of wild area. Agriculture, and other land-use activities, have altered or destroyed many natural wildlife habitats. Historically, the eastern massasauga rattlesnake had a much wider distribution than it does today. The present range consists of only four regions: the Ojibway Prairie Complex, Wainfleet Bog, parts of the Bruce Peninsula, and areas along the eastern shores and adjacent islands of Georgian Bay. Each of these areas is profiled in this section, introducing readers to each population, their unique habitats, the threats they face, and how the public can help protect this threatened species.
 

Historical range.
Present range map.

THE OJIBWAY PRAIRIE COMPLEX


DESCRIPTION

Southern Ontario is not well known for its prairie habitat. But it does contain small patches of tallgrass prairie. Historically, tallgrass prairie communities once covered much of southern Ontario. Agriculture and urban development reduced 1000 km2 of beautiful tall flowers and grasses to small remnant patches in scattered locations, totaling less than 30 km2. In Essex County, a thriving 350 ha Ojibway Prairie Complex is located within the City of Windsor. Smaller patches of prairie habitat can be found in neighbouring La Salle. The reduction and isolation of these natural areas has threatened the existence of many plant and animal species, including the eastern massasauga rattlesnake.

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