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Snake habitat fragmented alongside a
road and new sidewalk.
Development, roads and fences isolate
natural habitat to small parcels of land,
often far from any other nearby
natural areas.


Prairie degradation from long-term fire suppression has altered some areas, rendering them unsuitable for many species dependent on the unique prairie ecosystem. Without periodic burning, woody shrubs and non-native plants have taken over prairie areas, making them too shady for snakes and other prairie inhabitants.

Human persecution seriously impacts the survival of this small rattlesnake population. Massasaugas have a low reproductive rate and the loss of even a few adults can have severe repercussions. Collection of snakes for the pet trade occurs, though it is illegal and potentially dangerous. These limited and isolated populations may become threatened by an absence of unrelated adults. A lack of genetic diversity may result in inbreeding and in turn weaken the population. Researchers are attempting to determine how likely this threat may be by collecting blood from area snakes for analysis.

RESEARCH AND PROTECTION

Land
Little chance exists of reclaiming land that has been developed within the City of Windsor and Town of La Salle. Alternatively, the recovery team and its supporters have decided that one of their goals will be to promote the purchasing of undeveloped or former agricultural land. The land will be renaturalized as required to create additional prairie habitat. Such habitat management will help support and encourage the survival of snakes and countless other native species in this area.

Barriers
Another goal of the recovery team is to erect barriers in certain areas and along high-risk roads to prevent snakes from crossing these roadways and being killed.

Physically linking natural areas is one of the most beneficial practices in the conservation and preservation of all wild species.

RESEARCH AND EDUCATION

Scientific research (such as population surveys and radio tracking) has helped improve wildlife management practices. The information obtained from telemetry research has helped to improve the timing of prescribed burns in the Ojibway Prairie Complex so that the fires occur before snakes emerge from hibernation.

 

Aerial photo showing part of the Ojibway Prairie and the various bisecting roads and nearby developed city.

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