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.
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.
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.
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.