2013). Copeia 2011(3): 443-456. Some short-distance migrants may not display typical migratory behaviour (i.e., directed movement to and from discrete summer activity ranges) but rather engage in meandering movements throughout the active season (Jørgensen et al. Fish and Wildlife Service, Davies Ranch, northeast of Medicine Hat, AB (1997), Radiotelemetry of 3 adult snakes (males and females). In the absence of remedial actions, and in face of ongoing road mortality, intensive agriculture, oil and gas development and urbanization (see Threats and Limiting Factors; Habitat Trends), future declines in abundance are projected. Prepared by TERA Environmental Consultants for MULTISAR and Alberta Conservation Association, Calgary, AB. Prairie Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis) Hibernacula: Monitoring History in Alberta 1987-2002. Although rescue (i.e., the establishment of new hibernacula in Canada by snakes originating in the U.S.) is possible, it would likely occur at a low or very low rate, and would be localized to areas close to the Canada-U.S. border. Movements, migrations, and mechanisms: a review of radiotelemetry studies of Prairie (Crotalus viridis viridis) and Western Rattlesnakes (Crotalus oreganus). Also, anecdotal evidence suggests a decline in abundance (or extirpation) has occurred at a few historical Alberta locations (Kissner and Nicholson 2003, and sources therein), two of which were previously reported to number in the “hundreds” and “thousands.”. The Wildlife Habitat Protection Act. This report was prepared under contract with Environment Canada and was overseen and edited by James P. Bogart, Co-chair of the COSEWIC Amphibians and Reptiles Specialist Subcommittee. Prairie Grasslands in Peril? Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation. In addition, cultivation and cattle grazing activities in riparian areas may also result in the destruction of hibernacula (Rose 2001; Jørgensen 2009). SARA establishes COSEWIC as an advisory body ensuring that species will continue to be assessed under a rigorous and independent scientific process. Some local populations of Prairie Rattlesnakes have declined or disappeared in the USA as a result of historical killing of snakes at dens (NatureServe 2013). 2013. The importance of suitable retreat sites has also been documented for another rattlesnake species (Massasauga; Harvey and Weatherhead 2006). Panel of three maps showing the percentage of landscape change by county in (Map a) cultivated acres, (Map b) hay land, and (Map c) natural land from 1971 to 2001 in southern Alberta. Generation Time = age at which 50% of total lifetime reproduction is achieved. 2005. Pub. 2008; Powell et al. Turmoil and Renewal: The fiscal pulse of the Canadian upstream oil and gas industry. NatureServe. Population structure and genetic diversity of Greater Sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) in fragmented landscapes at the northern edge of their range. In such cases, some restrictions on the use, reproduction or communication of such copyrighted work may apply and it may be necessary to seek permission from rights holders prior to use, reproduction or communication of these works. Ecology and conservation of Prairie Rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridis viridis) in relation to movement in a fragmented urban environment. Klauber, L. M. 1997. Web Site: http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/sk/grasslands/edu/edu1.aspx [accessed Nov. 2013]. These include: a) seasonal aggregation at overwintering sites and gestation sites, b) high site fidelity to hibernacula and gestation sites, c) high fidelity to seasonal migration routes, and, d) conspicuous defensive behaviour (Ernst and Quinlan 2006). Research Scientist – Curator of Vertebrate Zoology, Royal Saskatchewan Museum, Regina, SK. The rather unremarkable surface appearance of hibernacula and the lack of snakes at hibernacula entrances for all but a limited period during the spring and fall makes accidental discovery unlikely, The fear of being bitten by a rattlesnake lessens the average persons’ willingness to venture near hibernacula, and. Canadian Field-Naturalist 1(91): 122-129. Long migration distances (see Dispersal and Migration) increase the likelihood of road crossings and encounters with vehicles. 1999 and sources therein), and presence of large amounts of unsuitable habitat can cause an increase in home range size of snakes (Kapfer et al. Provincially owned parks and protected areas within the range of the Prairie Rattlesnake total ~500 km2 and these lands are found entirely within Alberta (Table 8). Web Site: http://www12.statcan.gc.ca [accessed June 2014]. Fisheries and Wildlife Database. Highway on the prairies. Fisheries & Wildlife Management Information System (FWMIS). Examples of these projects include the Medicine Hat bypass linking Highway 1 and Highway 3, the Lethbridge bypass linking Highway 3 and Highway 4, and Highway 41 widening and expansion (AESRD and ACA 2012). Unpublished data. Sullivan, B. K. 2000. St. Mary River and Milk River Watershed Boundaries (JPG; 1.1 MB). 2012. COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Prairie Rattlesnake Crotalus viridis in Canada (2015-11-20)The Prairie Rattlesnake is a heavy-bodied pit viper. comm. Molecular systematics of the Western Rattlesnake, Crotalus viridis (Viperidae), with comments on the utility of the D-loop in phylogenetic studies of snakes. First Nations Map of Saskatchewan Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. 2012. A. Martino, D. L. Parker and R. G. Poulin. Charland, B. M. 1988. Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA). Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (AESRD). The bison, a relative of cattle, is native to the North American prairie. Essential requirements for Prairie Rattlesnake populations are gestation sites, foraging areas, hibernating sites and movement corridors that connect these habitat features. 40. Williams et al. The draft does not propose any new Conservation Management Areas or Protected Areas within the Prairie Rattlesnake range in Alberta. Annual Report Vol. 34: 6,773 vehicles per day; County of Essex 2014) were genetically different, providing evidence that the highway was a barrier to gene flow. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) was created in 1977 as a result of a recommendation at the Federal-Provincial Wildlife Conference held in 1976. Martinson, A. and J. Wielki. Suspected causes of decline were not presented. Trends in IAO remain unknown. Evaluating attitudes and behaviour towards Prairie Rattlesnakes in southeastern Alberta. There is an ongoing continuing decline of 3 - 18% in the amount of Prairie Rattlesnake habitat in Canada over the 40 year period from 1985 – 2024 (i.e., three generations), due to tillage alone. dissertation, University of Regina, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. With the discovery of a number of species at risk and other rare species on some units, the conservation value has increased. Conversion of native prairie to intensive cropland reduces the quantity and quality of available foraging habitat and is presumed to have contributed to the historical range reduction of the Prairie Rattlesnake in Canada (see Canadian Range). The total number of current locations in Canada is obtained by addition estimates for both provinces: 227 (209 – 286). July 2013. Adapted from Alberta NAWMP Partnership (2008). Shrubs available for retreat sites in southern Saskatchewan include sagebrush (Artemisia spp. Also, the lack of observations in the intervening landscape is probably the result of unsuitable topography and climate (Pendlebury 1977) as opposed to a lack of search effort (see Search Effort). Gestation sites (i.e., rookeries) provide optimum thermoregulatory conditions for embryonic development and cover from predation. More information is provided on Prairie NWA in the summary table below. Conservation Genetics 12(2): 527-542. A lack of movement between subpopulations over multiple generations will likely contribute to strong demographic or genetic isolation, and has been documented in other rattlesnakes (e.g., Massasauga: Chiucchi and Gibbs 2010). Also, relatively natural areas in the city’s floodplain are also used for recreational activities, such as golf courses, which are either avoided by snakes or place them at a heightened risk of persecution (Andrus 2010). Shepley, B. K., D. Chiszar, K. T. Fitzgerald and A. J. Saviola. Many are listed in the 'Authorities Contacted' and still others are listed throughout the report in the form of 'personal communications'. 1977. Much of the native prairie in Alberta and Saskatchewan is publicly owned but grazed by private ranchers through individual leases which are governed under the Provincial Lands Act (Stewart 2013). Government of Saskatchewan. comm. Prairie Rattlesnake distribution is continuous from Canada south into Montana (see Global Range) along the Missouri River Drainage, and specifically, its tributaries: the Milk River (Southern Alberta) and the Frenchman River (Southern Saskatchewan). At this point, sample sizes are too low to determine if mortality rates are relatively greater for Prairie Rattlesnakes that migrate through cultivated lands. Rose (2001) suggested that agricultural practices may be affecting rodent populations that snakes depend on as prey and for creation of burrows for refuge and hibernation. In Alberta, land acquisitions have occurred within the Grasslands Natural Region by groups such as Alberta Conservation Association, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Alberta Fish and Game, and Pheasants Forever. A location is defined as a hibernaculum or hibernaculum complex (see Canadian Range). Kissner and Nicholson (2003) provide evidence (based on counts at hibernacula) for declines at four out of 11 locations since the 1990s. The bimodal migratory behaviour of Prairie Rattlesnakes is conducive to creating links between subpopulations both across the prairie uplands and along riparian corridors. Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation (ATPR). 2013b. Behavioral response of the Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum) to habitat fragment size and isolation in an urban landscape. Email correspondence to J. Choquette. At the northern extent of its range, biological attributes such as delayed age of maturity, slow growth, biennial or triennial reproduction, small litter size, and high juvenile mortality result in populations that are slow to recover from declines (see Biology and Fluctuations and Trends). Note: estimates of 38 - 45% yearly mortality by Proctor et al. The flat, triangular-shaped head hides a pair of the retractable fangs. 2013a. Powell, G. L., A. P. Russell, M. M. A. Hill, N. E. O'Brien and J. Skilnick. The first approach produced an estimate of 2,310 (1,716 – 2,904) adults by multiplying the estimated number of known hibernacula in the province (35 [26 - 44]; Canadian Range) by an average of 66 adults per hibernaculum (assuming an average of 100 snakes per hibernaculum, two thirds of which are mature; AESRD and ACA 2012, Table 3). Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network, Environment Canada. 2007), for a combined 89,440 km2 – 93,118 km2 of native prairie remaining (~ 41,440 km2 in Alberta and 48,000 km2 – 51,678 km2 in Saskatchewan: Jørgensen 2009; MacKenzie 2011; Saskatchewan Eco-Network 2013a). The Canadian range of the Prairie Rattlesnake is inferred based on targeted field inventories, mail-out questionnaires (see Pendlebury 1977), and data submissions to provincial databases (e.g., AESRD 2013). In the last 40 years (1974 – 2013) declines in abundance of Prairie Rattlesnakes have been inferred anecdotally at a few Canadian locations, related to persecution, industrial development, road mortality and/or natural factors: Probably the most convincing evidence of a local population decline is provided by Proctor et al. If biennial female reproduction is assumed, age at time of first litter is 6 years and maximum age of breeding is 17.5 years. 2010). For example, in Lethbridge, AB two non-fatal bites to humans were reported between 2000-2005 (Ernst 2002; Andrus 2010). In southern Saskatchewan, there could be new irrigation infrastructure/measures but that won’t remove native habitat as that habitat has already been destroyed in the past. 2012; Gardiner 2012); however, mortality risk increases with increasing traffic volume. Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation, Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, Milk River, AB. To the edges of Canada’s number one city Toronto, at least that is what the residents of Toronto think. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Wright, C. K. and M. C. Wimberly. Figure 3. These blotches fade towards the tail and turn into bands. Environmental Values in the Great Sand Hills. Similarity of contemporary and historical gene flow among highly fragmented populations of an endangered rattlesnake. Average home range size of the Prairie Rattlesnake in Canada ranges from 4 to 109 ha. Andrews, K. M., J. W. Gibbons and T. Reeder. Most snake species (including all snake species that live in Alberta) are not aggressive by nature, and will sooner hide or flee than risk a confrontation with potential handlers or predators, including humans. Journal of Environmental Management 92(1): 195-204. MacKenzie, J. Riley, J. L., S. E. Green and K. E. Brobribb. [accessed May 2013]. The Prairie Rattlesnake is strongly associated with major river valleys in this watershed, including the Bow, Oldman, Red Deer and South Saskatchewan rivers, as well as with the Milk and Frenchman rivers in the Missouri River drainage (refer to Figure 4). There is currently a lack of evidence to confirm whether or not presumed barriers are contributing to genetic structure of this species in Canada (e.g., Weyer et al. 2014). Globally, the Prairie Rattlesnake extent of occurrence, area of occupancy, number of subpopulations, and population size are probably relatively stable or declining at a rate of less than 10% over three generations (NatureServe 2013). In Alberta and Saskatchewan, the Prairie Rattlesnake occurs predominantly within the Mixed Grassland Ecoregion, which is the warmest, driest region of both provinces and encompasses 95,500 km2 (14%) of Alberta (Natural Regions Committee 2006) and 86,710 km2 (13%) of Saskatchewan (Saskatchewan Conservation Data Centre 2012). It is tan in colour with darker bands or blotches along its back and dark tail rings which are usually olive to brown. Click here to learn more. For example, Gardiner (2012) concluded rattlesnakes strongly avoided crop areas, using them 24 times less than expected, but the majority of snakes in her study (74%, 17/23) were short-distance migrants. Certain behavioural traits of Prairie Rattlesnakes limit their ability to adapt to human-induced threats and/or make them more vulnerable to threats. Également disponible en français sous le titre Ếvaluation et Rapport de situation du COSEPAC sur le Crotale des prairies (Crotalus viridis) au Canada. Accessed February 2013. There have been no reports of rattlesnakes between the Frenchman River (Cypress Hills region) and the immediate vicinity of the South Saskatchewan River since the 1930s (Pendelbury 1977; Didiuk 2009). 493. The Prairie rattlesnake is the only venomous snake in the Canadian Prairies. A limited number of observations exist of radio-tracked snakes either switching dens (Jørgensen 2009) or not being relocated due to lost signals, and not returning to their original den site (Jørgenson et al. The estimated number of locations impacted by each threat is also detailed in Table 5. Government of Alberta. A finer scale analysis, however, may reveal population fragmentation not apparent at a broad scale, particularly if strong dispersal barriers are identified (see Population Spatial Structure and Variability). If disturbed, they will defend themselves by … Journal of Herpetology 43(4): 646-656. Thorpe, J., pers. Nernberg, D., pers. The size of a hibernaculum varies considerably and multiple entrance holes may be considered part of a single ‘complex’. It is not usually aggressive, and will try to escape if possible. 2012. 79 pp. 2008. The IAO is estimated at 2,308 km2, based on the addition of all 2 km x 2 km grid squares containing at least one observation record. Prairie Rattlesnake . The Saskatchewan Wildlife Habitat Protection Act. Biological Conservation 130: 206-216. Ernst and Quinlan (2006) suggest the Lethbridge population is in decline based on an estimated 10 rattlesnakes intentionally killed per year from 1997-2000. 23 pp. (1996) increased that number to 12 (assuming that all but one of the dens in their study was previously reported). 2013) or drowning-out by river flooding (Nernberg pers. For example, in the same study discussed above by Kissner and Nicholson (2003), rattlesnake occupancy at 11 hibernacula from across the Alberta range was monitored in both the 1990s and 2000s. Utilization of Air Photo Interpretation to Locate Prairie Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis viridis) Hibernacula in the South Saskatchewan River Valley. Web Site: http://watergovernance.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/milk.jpg [accessed Nov. 2013]. These include large geographical distances (see Canadian Range), high-traffic roads, intensively cultivated areas and densely urbanized areas (see Threats and Limiting Factors). In Canada, Prairie Rattlesnakes are active for approximately 4 months of the year, from mid-May to late September (Jørgensen et al. COSEWIC comprises members from each provincial and territorial government wildlife agency, four federal entities (Canadian Wildlife Service, Parks Canada Agency, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Federal Biodiversity Information Partnership, chaired by the Canadian Museum of Nature), three non-government science members and the co-chairs of the species specialist subcommittees and the Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge subcommittee. The Prairie Rattlesnake is considered “Secure” globally and in the U.S. 101 pp. The Royal Canadian Geographical Society family of sites: Canadian Geographic student geography challenge, Help designate an official bird for Canada, Grade 8 students exploring Parks Canada sites, Compare countries' statistics and explore our changing world, Innovative projects in the developing world, The revolution of mapping in the First World War, Canadian pilots heroically earn their wings, Canadian Geographic magazine in french: Géographica, Accessibility Standard for Customer Service Plan. comm. There is a lack of information on the dispersal mechanism involved in Prairie Rattlesnake range expansion. Also, Prairie Rattlesnakes which tend to migrate long distances over uplands from dens to foraging grounds (see Dispersal and Migration) may have limited opportunities for encounters with suitable foraging habitat in heavily cultivated landscapes (Jørgensen 2009). Traversing anthropogenic landscapes and features (e.g., roads, cultivation, irrigation channels, and rural residential development) contributes to rattlesnake mortality (Jørgensen 2009), and rattlesnakes that migrate long distances are at an increased mortality risk compared to those that migrate relatively shorter distances (Weyer et al. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 1(15): 269 - 282. Modeling the relationship between habitat preferences and home-range size: a case study on a large mobile colubrid snake from North America. comm. Email correspondence to Jonathan Choquette. Rattlesnake is the common name for about 30 species of venomous viperid snakes in the genera Crotalus and Sistrurus, found from southern Canada to South America. Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). [accessed Nov. 2013]. Bush, K. L., C. K. Dyte, B.J. Also, there is some evidence suggesting a link between Prairie Rattlesnake population declines and increased intensity of energy development in areas surrounding hibernacula. Poulin, R., pers. These include the Bow, Oldman, Red Deer and South Saskatchewan rivers, and the Milk and Frenchman rivers (Missouri River drainage). 62 pp. Prairie rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis) Found in southern Saskatchewan and Alberta, this snake can reach a maximum length of more than 1.6 metres. The Prairie Rattlesnake is one of three extant rattlesnake species in Canada and has been the subject of numerous scientific investigations in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Its normal striking distance is two-thirds of the snake’s body length (60 to 76 centimetres, on average). 1996; Poulin and Didiuk 2008; Gardiner 2012; Didiuk pers. Future recommended survey methods would include trapping for this species. Also present are various species of frog and toad. In 1999, Conservancy staff found the prairie rattlesnake at the Broken Kettle Preserve—Iowa’s largest remaining grassland prairie. Environment Canada's Prairie and Northern Region habitat monitoring program phase II: recent habitat trends in the Prairie Habitat Joint Venture. For example, six veterinary clinics in Lethbridge, AB treated a combined 13 (9 – 16) cases of snakebite to dogs annually and staff could only recall one fatal bite (Andrus 2010). Fisheries and Wildlife Management Information System, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, Edmonton, AB. Number of locations was estimated crudely as the total number of locations (227) multiplied by the scope. Prepared by Canadian Wildlife Service for Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, Saskatoon, SK. Open population estimates were obtained documenting a similar decline across the years with the first estimate being 968 (95% CI 701 – 1271) and the last estimate being 461 (95% CI 227 – 695), where confidence intervals between the first and last estimate did not overlap, supporting the observation of a potential population decline over the period of study. This report may be cited as follows: COSEWIC. 63 pp. 2013) have been proposed as possible threats. pp. 2008. Burrows used by Prairie Rattlesnakes are made by a variety of mammals, including: Richardson’s Ground Squirrels, Mountain Cottontails (Sylvilagus nuttallii), American Badgers (Taxidea taxus) and Black-tailed Prairie Dogs (Ernst and Quinlan 2006; Gardiner 2012). 2008; Jørgensen 2009). 2014. W-13.12 - The Wildlife Act, 1998. It seems likely that the relatively high mortality risk faced by long-distance migrants will eventually contribute to a widespread reduction in landscape connectivity for this species. 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Examples of Western Rattlesnake migrations from the University of Guelph www.iucnredlist.org [ accessed June 2014 ] shorter distance movements gestation... Kingdom Animalia, phylum Craniata, class Reptilia, order Squamata, family Viperidae, genus Crotalus NatureServe!, Adult/sub-adult sex ratio ( males: females ), both from the latter region are from... Reporting of observations to the Short-horned Lizard and Western Rattlesnake Jørgensen ( 2009 ) the province ( habitat! Rattlesnake venom poisoning in horses: 32 cases ( 1973-1993 ) such a survivorship pattern of! Year after year, migrating to hunting territories after waking yellowish-brown and have dark brown blotches in! At Grasslands National Park was created been assessed by COSEWIC and is not restricted and activities may be to. Reptilia, order Squamata, family Viperidae, genus Crotalus ( NatureServe 2013 ) Alberta! Kennedy coulee, Red Deer River near Bindloss, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Fish! A fraction ( less than 1 % of the Prairie Rattlesnake is outlined go. C. catenatus ) Alberta EOO and the Milk River in southern Saskatchewan and southern Alberta ( AESRD and 2012... Conservation data Centre ranks, please check the CDC ’ s largest remaining grassland Prairie in 2014 Chiszar K.! Through Prairie Rattlesnake ( Crotalus viridis ) associates with Black-tailed Prairie Dog while. Migrants do not appear to avoid intensively cultivated areas range is estimated at km2. Regions of Alberta 2013b ) 192 ( 183 - 242 ) locations have documented..., horses, and will try to escape if possible Somers, J to favour the Evolution of local.! Name: Prairie Rattlesnake ( Crotalus viridis ) ( Rafinesque, 1818 ) landscapes the. The wild snakes had been originally collected South of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Lethbridge,,! A very poisonous snake found in southwestern Saskatchewan and Alberta, it is considered Secure. To croplands and brush, pastures, etc watershed, including mice, squirrels! 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