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  • Originally, the eastern massasauga rattlesnake was given legal protection through the Ontario Game and Fish Act in May of 1990. In 1997, this act was replaced by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act.
  • In April, 1991 the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife In Canada (COSEWIC) designated the eastern massasauga rattlesnake as threatened in Canada.
  • The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources designated the massasauga as threatened in Ontario in 1998, through recommendations made by the Committee On the Status of Species At Risk in Ontario (COSSARO).




The purpose of this Act is to preserve at-risk wildlife. It covers the mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, and reptiles native to Ontario. The Act lists the eastern massasauga rattlesnake as a “specially protected reptile.” This designation legally protects the massasauga from being harassed, captured, killed, bought, or sold. A violation of the Act can result in a maximum fine of $25,000 and/or imprisonment for up to a year. A violation for commercial purposes increases the penalty to a maximum fine of $100,000 and/or imprisonment for up to two years.


The Provincial Planning Act governs municipalities in the development of private lands. Natural heritage features are addressed in the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) of the Planning Act. The habitats of threatened and endangered species are considered natural heritage features. In order to proceed, official plans and by-laws must account for the PPS requirements and other planning documents. The Act states that development and site alteration will not be permitted in significant portions of the habitat of endangered and threatened species, but may be permitted on adjacent lands if the proponent has demonstrated that the development will have no negative impacts on the at-risk species in that area.


“…if you know wilderness in the way that you know love, you would be unwilling to let it go. We are talking about the body of the beloved, not real estate, …Can we really survive the worship of our own destructiveness? We do not exist in isolation. Our sense of community and compassionate intelligence must be extended to all life forms, plants, animals, rocks, rivers, and human beings. This is the story of our past and it will be the story of our future.”

– Terry Tempest Williams

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