Sistrurus catenatus - (Rafinesque, 1818)
Eastern Massasauga
Other English Common Names: eastern massasauga
Synonym(s): Sistrurus catenatus catenatus (Rafinesque, 1818)
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Sistrurus catenatus catenatus (Rafinesque, 1818) (TSN 209510) ;Sistrurus catenatus (Rafinesque, 1818) (TSN 174304)
French Common Names: massasauga, massasauga de l'Est
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.105543
Element Code: ARADE03011
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Reptiles - Snakes
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Reptilia Squamata Viperidae Sistrurus
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Collins, J. T. 1990. Standard common and current scientific names for North American amphibians and reptiles. 3rd ed. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles. Herpetological Circular No. 19. 41 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B90COL01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Sistrurus catenatus catenatus
Taxonomic Comments: Following SSAR (2016), Kubatko et al. (2011) used a multigene data set to infer two clades among the three previously recognized subspecies. One clade contained the eastern subspecies (S. c. catenatus) and the other clade contained the two western subspecies (S. c. tergeminus and S. c. edwardsii). Kubatko et al. (2011) recommended elevating S. c. catenatus. However, if the recommendation was followed at that time, it would also require elevating S. c. tergeminus and the formation of three new combinations. In addition, Holycross et al. (2008) discovered that S. c. tergeminus is actually subsumed by S. c. catenatus because the type locality of catenatus is within the range of tergeminus, and that the name Crotalus massassaugus Kirtland, 1838 would be the available and valid name for the eastern subspecies. As such, tergeminus was not currently a valid name and if the Kubatko et al. recommendation was followed, the specific epithet for the eastern form would be massassaugus. Crother et al. (2011) submitted a petition to the ICZN for conservation of the names catenatus and tergeminus. The subsequent opinion by the ICZN (2013) retained the names S. catenatus and S. tergeminus by designation of neotypes for both species. In this database we follow SSAR and the recommendation of Kubatko et al. (2011) and elevate tergeminus, leaving no recognized subspecies of catenatus.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G3
Global Status Last Reviewed: 21May2015
Global Status Last Changed: 13Oct2010
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: Occurs in the southern Great Lakes region and Midwest; much habitat has been lost as a result of human activities and natural succession, resulting in population reduction and fragmentation.
Nation: United States
National Status: N3 (13Oct2010)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N3 (02Aug2017)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Illinois (S2), Indiana (S2), Iowa (S1), Michigan (S3), Minnesota (S1), Missouri (SX), New York (S1), Ohio (S2), Pennsylvania (S1), Wisconsin (S1)
Canada Ontario (S3)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LT: Listed threatened (30Sep2016)
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R3 - North Central
Canadian Species at Risk Act (SARA) Schedule 1/Annexe 1 Status: T (12Jan2005)
Implied Status under the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC):E,T
Comments on COSEWIC: The Carolinian population is designated Endangered, the Great Lakes / St. Lawrence population is designated Threatened.

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Range extends from southern Ontario and western New York west across Michigan and southern Wisconsin to southeastern Minnesota, eastern Iowa, and eastern Missouri, south to southern Illinois, central Indiana, southern Ohio, and western Pennsylvania; a disjunct population exists at the eastern end of Michigan's Upper Peninsula (Conant and Collins 1991). Subspecies catenatus may intergrade with subspecies tergeminus in north-central Missouri (Beltz, in Johnson and Menzies 1993, which see for further details). The historical range in Canada extended throughout the mesic prairie and wetlands that formerly were common in southwestern and west-central Ontario (Johnson and Menzies 1993).

Recent evidence (see Szymanski 1998) indicates that massasaugas in all of Missouri and Iowa likely represent subspecies catenatus (eastern massasauga), so all populations north and east of the Missouri River probably should be regarded as S. c. catenatus. This is the circumscription used by the USFWS (2009) for the eastern distinct population segment of Sistrurus catenatus.

Area of Occupancy: 501 to >12,500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: Based on 236 occupied "sites" (Szymanski 1998) and a minimum of 4 sq km per site (using the 2 km x 2 km grid system of IUCN), area of occupancy would be at least 944 sq km. Given that many sites encompass more than one 4-sq-km grid cell, it is likely that area of occupancy is at least a few thousands of square kilometers.

Number of Occurrences: 21 - 300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Szymanski (1998) determined that this snake is extant in 236 "sites," which represent an unknown but much smaller number of distinct occurrences.

Population Size: 2500 - 100,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Total adult population size is unknown and very difficult to determine but likely is at least several thousand. Based on 236 occupied sites and (speculating) an average of 50 adults per site, the population would be 11,800. But the adult population size might be quite small in many sites, so the population might be fewer than 10,000.

Overall Threat Impact: High
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Loss, destruction, or modification of habitat (the primary threat factor ranked here) is affecting at least 50 populations rangewide. A few examples (from USFWS 2009) are as follows. In Illinois, the Des Plaines River Valley population continues to be fragmented into smaller subpopulations isolated by development or otherwise unsuitable habitat (Mierzwa 1993). In Michigan, a major residential development, at the Green/Union Lakes site in Oakland County, Michigan, recently eliminated much of and severely degraded the remaining habitat (Legge 1996). At Wixom, Michigan, both wetland and upland habitat were recently degraded by agricultural practices and highway construction (Legge 1996). Similarly, in Bremer County, Iowa, a golf course is encroaching upon massasauga habitat (Christiansen 1993). In Wisconsin, cranberry operations are potential threats to massasauga populations (Cathy Carnes, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in litt., 1997). In Pennsylvania, four companies applied for sand and gravel mining permits in areas supporting massasauga populations (Andrew Shiels, Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission, in litt., 1997). More recently, a sizeable area that included hibernation and gestation habitat in Pennsylvania was converted from grassland to row-crop agriculture (Benjamin Jellen, St. Louis University, pers. comm., 2008, cited by USFWS 2009). One of Ohio's largest populations (Killdeer Plains) was bulldozed and plowed under in 1994. In addition, urban encroachment has disrupted the natural disturbance processes (such as hydrological cycles and fire frequency), and subsequently, changes in habitat structure and vegetative composition have occurred. For example, in Pennsylvania, woody vegetation was cited as a threat at 75 percent of the massasauga sites surveyed (Reinert and Bushar 1993). Furthermore, loss of suitable habitat area may be occurring where invasive woody vegetation is altering the vegetative structure of massasauga habitat, even at some protected sites (USFWS 2009).

The over-harvesting of massasaugas is well documented, and the pernicious effects of past anti-rattlesnake campaigns are still visible today. Several populations have been harvested beyond a recoverable threshold and are functionally extinct. Intentional killing and illegal collection continue. Recent law enforcement actions involving individuals from several states revealed the immediacy and magnitude of this threat. An Indiana Department of Natural Resources law enforcement investigation in 1998 uncovered a well-organized, multi-state effort to launder state-protected reptile species (including eastern massasauga). The investigation concluded with the indictment of 40 defendants.

Predation under natural conditions is not a notable threat. However, with habitat loss, many populations have become small and isolated and so are more sensitive to predation (and to losses from road mortality or direct persecution). Further, the biology of the species makes females most susceptible, which exacerbates the impacts of predation. The thermoregulatory needs of the gravid females render them most vulnerable to collection and predation. This implies that populations occurring at low densities are particularly sensitive to collection or predation (i.e., predation/collection of just a few individuals could greatly diminish the population's reproductive potential). Similarly, a Population Viability Analysis (PVA) indicated that populations are most sensitive to adult mortality. Given the species' low biological replacement rate, even small increases in adult mortality can precipitate irreversible declines. These biological traits and the threat factors synergistically interact, which exacerbates the effects of individual factors and can lead to an extinction vortex for those populations affected by one or more factors.

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-50%
Short-term Trend Comments: Though not readily quantifiable in terms of the specific rate over the past 10 years or three generations, the current general trend across the entire range of the eastern massasauga is one of declining populations (see threats information). Given that the primary threat is loss, degradation, and fragmentation of habitat, and that much habitat is not protected or adequately managed, declines in massasauga populations are expected to continue.

Generation time likely is at least 5 years, so three generations would be at least 15 years.

Long-term Trend: Decline of 30-70%
Long-term Trend Comments: Distribution is probably a reflection of scattered post-glacial relict habitats (Wright 1941). These post-glacial (prairie-peninsula) habitats have been isolated through settlement, which has been the cause of the extinction of many populations. Anecdotal evidence suggests that populations have become fragmented by human activities and associated habitat destruction during the last two hundred years (Johnson and Menzies 1993). Habitat has been disappearing at an alarming rate throughout the majority of the range (Hessil 1992). Populations have declined rapidly over the past few decades in the southern Great Lakes basin (Harding 1997).

The general geographic range (or extent of occurrence) has not changed very much compared to the historical situation, but within this range the area of occupancy has undergone a substantial decline. Rangewide, approximately 40 percent of the historically occupied counties no longer support this snake (USFWS 2009); each state/province in the range has lost at least 30 percent of its historical populations, and most have lost more than 50 percent (Szymanski 1998). Populations declined in northwestern Indiana between the 1930s and 1990s (Brodman et al. 2002).

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Highly to moderately vulnerable.
Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Reproductive rate is relatively low.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Protection Needs: Many extant populations occur on preserves or otherwise protected tracts of habitat, as well as on adjoining private property. Accordingly, USFWS (2009) recommended that state, local, or nongovernment agencies, or private landowners responsible for massasauga habitat explore the possibility of entering Candidate Conservation Agreements (CCA) or Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances (CCAA) with the USFWS. CCAs or CCAAs allow the partner agency or landowner to work cooperatively with USFWS to identify land management measures that would be beneficial to the species. Examples of such actions include: wetland and other habitat restoration activities or control of invasive species to improve habitat for massasaugas, strategic roadside mowing to discourage snake use of areas around roads, reduce likelihood of mortality by adjusting prescribed burn prescriptions or other land management activities for times when massasaugas are dormant. In addition to proactive land management practices, we also recommend outreach activities that might lessen public persecution of this relatively secretive, but venomous snake.

Distribution
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Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) Range extends from southern Ontario and western New York west across Michigan and southern Wisconsin to southeastern Minnesota, eastern Iowa, and eastern Missouri, south to southern Illinois, central Indiana, southern Ohio, and western Pennsylvania; a disjunct population exists at the eastern end of Michigan's Upper Peninsula (Conant and Collins 1991). Subspecies catenatus may intergrade with subspecies tergeminus in north-central Missouri (Beltz, in Johnson and Menzies 1993, which see for further details). The historical range in Canada extended throughout the mesic prairie and wetlands that formerly were common in southwestern and west-central Ontario (Johnson and Menzies 1993).

Recent evidence (see Szymanski 1998) indicates that massasaugas in all of Missouri and Iowa likely represent subspecies catenatus (eastern massasauga), so all populations north and east of the Missouri River probably should be regarded as S. c. catenatus. This is the circumscription used by the USFWS (2009) for the eastern distinct population segment of Sistrurus catenatus.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States IA, IL, IN, MI, MN, MOextirpated, NY, OH, PA, WI
Canada ON

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
IA Bremer (19017), Chickasaw (19037), Clinton (19045), Johnson (19103)*, Lee (19111)*, Louisa (19115), Madison (19121)*, Muscatine (19139), Ringgold (19159)*, Scott (19163), Union (19175)*
IL Bond (17005), Clinton (17027), Cook (17031), DuPage (17043)*, Fayette (17051)*, Knox (17095), Lake (17097)*, Madison (17119), Piatt (17147), Warren (17187)*, Will (17197)*
IN Allen (18003), Carroll (18015), Cass (18017)*, Delaware (18035)*, Elkhart (18039), Fulton (18049)*, Hendricks (18063)*, Jasper (18073)*, Kosciusko (18085), La Porte (18091), Lagrange (18087), Lake (18089), Marshall (18099), Montgomery (18107)*, Noble (18113), Porter (18127), Pulaski (18131), St. Joseph (18141), Starke (18149), Steuben (18151), Sullivan (18153)*, Tippecanoe (18157)*, Wabash (18169)*, Wells (18179)*, Whitley (18183)*
MI Alcona (26001), Allegan (26005), Alpena (26007), Antrim (26009), Arenac (26011)*, Barry (26015), Benzie (26019), Berrien (26021), Branch (26023)*, Calhoun (26025), Cass (26027), Cheboygan (26031), Clare (26035), Clinton (26037), Crawford (26039), Eaton (26045), Emmet (26047)*, Genesee (26049), Grand Traverse (26055), Hillsdale (26059), Huron (26063)*, Ingham (26065), Ionia (26067)*, Iosco (26069), Jackson (26075), Kalamazoo (26077), Kalkaska (26079), Kent (26081), Lake (26085), Lapeer (26087), Lenawee (26091), Livingston (26093), Mackinac (26097), Macomb (26099), Manistee (26101), Mason (26105), Missaukee (26113), Montcalm (26117), Montmorency (26119), Muskegon (26121), Newaygo (26123), Oakland (26125), Oscoda (26135)*, Presque Isle (26141), Roscommon (26143), Saginaw (26145), Shiawassee (26155)*, St. Joseph (26149), Van Buren (26159), Washtenaw (26161), Wayne (26163)*
MN Goodhue (27049)*, Olmsted (27109)*, Wabasha (27157)*, Winona (27169)*
MO Andrew (29003)*, Atchison (29005)*, Buchanan (29021)*, Carroll (29033)*, Chariton (29041)*, Holt (29087)*, Jackson (29095)*, Linn (29115)*, Livingston (29117)*, Nodaway (29147)*, Platte (29165)*, Saline (29195)*, St. Charles (29183)*, St. Louis (29189)*, St. Louis (city) (29510)*
NY Genesee (36037), Onondaga (36067)
PA Allegheny (42003)*, Armstrong (42005)*, Butler (42019), Crawford (42039)*, Lawrence (42073)*, Mercer (42085), Venango (42121)
WI Adams (55001)*, Buffalo (55011), Clark (55019)*, Columbia (55021), Crawford (55023)*, Dane (55025)*, Green (55045)*, Jackson (55053), Juneau (55057), Kenosha (55059)*, La Crosse (55063), Monroe (55081), Pepin (55091), Rock (55105), Sauk (55111), Trempealeau (55121), Walworth (55127), Wood (55141)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
04 Upper Fox (04030201)+, Little Calumet-Galien (04040001)+, St. Joseph (04050001)+, Black-Macatawa (04050002)+, Kalamazoo (04050003)+, Upper Grand (04050004)+, Maple (04050005)+, Lower Grand (04050006)+, Thornapple (04050007)+, Pere Marquette-White (04060101)+, Muskegon (04060102)+, Manistee (04060103)+, Betsie-Platte (04060104)+, Boardman-Charlevoix (04060105)+, Lone Lake-Ocqueoc (04070003)+, Cheboygan (04070004)+*, Black (04070005)+, Thunder Bay (04070006)+, Au Sable (04070007)+, Au Gres-Rifle (04080101)+, Kawkawlin-Pine (04080102)+*, Tittabawassee (04080201)+*, Shiawassee (04080203)+, Flint (04080204)+, Clinton (04090003)+, Huron (04090005)+, Raisin (04100002)+, St. Marys (04100004)+, Tiffin (04100006)+, Lower Genesee (04130003)+, Oneida (04140202)+
05 Middle Allegheny-Tionesta (05010003)+, Lower Allegheny (05010009)+, Shenango (05030102)+, Connoquenessing (05030105)+, Upper Wabash (05120101)+, Mississinewa (05120103)+*, Eel (05120104)+*, Middle Wabash-Deer (05120105)+, Tippecanoe (05120106)+, Middle Wabash-Little Vermilion (05120108)+*, Middle Wabash-Busseron (05120111)+*, Upper White (05120201)+*, Eel (05120203)+*
07 Rush-Vermillion (07040001)+, Buffalo-Whitewater (07040003)+, Zumbro (07040004)+*, Trempealeau (07040005)+*, La Crosse-Pine (07040006)+, Black (07040007)+, Lower Chippewa (07050005)+, Coon-Yellow (07060001)+*, Castle Rock (07070003)+, Baraboo (07070004)+, Lower Wisconsin (07070005)+*, Copperas-Duck (07080101)+, Upper Wapsipinicon (07080102)+, Lower Wapsipinicon (07080103)+, Lower Cedar (07080206)+, Lower Iowa (07080209)+, Crawfish (07090002)+, Sugar (07090004)+*, Lake Red Rock (07100008)+*, Lower Des Moines (07100009)+*, Peruque-Piasa (07110009)+*, Kankakee (07120001)+, Iroquois (07120002)+*, Chicago (07120003)+, Des Plaines (07120004)+, Spoon (07130005)+, Upper Sangamon (07130006)+, Cahokia-Joachim (07140101)+*, Middle Kaskaskia (07140202)+, Shoal (07140203)+, Lower Kaskaskia (07140204)+
10 Tarkio-Wolf (10240005)+*, Nodaway (10240010)+*, Independence-Sugar (10240011)+*, Platte (10240012)+*, One Hundred and Two (10240013)+*, Upper Grand (10280101)+*, Thompson (10280102)+*, Lower Grand (10280103)+*, South Grand (10290108)+*, Lower Missouri-Crooked (10300101)+*, Blackwater (10300104)+*, Lower Missouri (10300200)+*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: This is a medium-sized snake, ranging from 30 to 36 inches (Logier 1958).
General Description: This small snake has a thick body, broad head, and vertical pupils (in bright light). The average length of an adult is about two feet. Adult are gray or light brown with large, light-edged chocolate brown blotches on the back and smaller blotches on the sides. The belly is marbled dark gray or black, and there is a narrow, white stripe on the head. The tail has several dark brown rings and is tipped by a gray-yellow horny rattle. Recently born snakes have the same markings as adults but are paler, and the rattle is represented by a single button that does not produce a rattling sound.
Reproduction Comments: Births occur mainly from late July through early September. Breeding and births occur in late summer in northern New York, where most females breed apparently every two years (Johnson 1992). Biennial breeding by females also has been suggested for other areas (e.g., Pennsylvania), though annual reproduction may occur in Wisconsin (see Ernst 1992; see also Anton, in Johnson and Menzies 1993). In Michigan, massasaugas give birth in late July or August (Moran, in Johnson and Menzies 1993). Litter size ranges from 2 to 14 (mean was 6-11 in different studies). Females are sexually mature in 3 years (Behler and King 1979).
Habitat Type: Freshwater
Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Individuals may travel up to 1.6 miles or more between winter and summer habitats (Johnson and Menzies 1993).

In Ontario, activity ranges averaged 0.25 sq km (up to 0.76 sq km); daily movements were frequent (individuals moved on average of 60% of the days) and averaged 56 meters per episode (Weatherhead and Prior 1992).

In Pennsylvania, mean home range area was about 1 hectare, and mean home range length was 89 meters (Reinert and Kodrich 1982).

In New York, estimates of mean activity range (minimum convex polygon) were 2.0 hectares for gravid females (n=2), 27.8 hectares for males (n=11), and 41.4 hectares for nongravid females (n=2) (Johnson 2000).

Palustrine Habitat(s): Bog/fen, FORESTED WETLAND, HERBACEOUS WETLAND, Riparian, SCRUB-SHRUB WETLAND
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Grassland/herbaceous, Old field, Savanna, Shrubland/chaparral, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Special Habitat Factors: Burrowing in or using soil, Fallen log/debris
Habitat Comments: Habitats range from sphagnum bogs, fens, swamps, marshes, shrub-dominated peatlands, wet meadows, and floodplains to dry woodland; this snake prefers seasonal wetlands with a mixture of open grass-sedge areas and short closed canopy (edge situations).

In Michigan, habitat generally includes a wintering area of low woods, bogs, fens, or marshes, and a summering area of drier ground, usually grassy with low shrubs; hibernation occurs in mammal burrows, crayfish burrows, rock crevices, or tree root systems, or sometimes under partially submerged trash, barn floors, or in basements (Moran, in Johnson and Menzies 1993).

At Cicero Swamp in New York, massasaugas used openings in a shrub swamp, hibernated in peatland under a thick blanket of sphagnum moss formed into raised hummocks that overlie often partly water-filled spaces created by a branching network of shrub roots (Johnson 1992, 2000).

Near Chicago, massasaugas tend to be associated with forest edge situations near rivers and shrubby old fields (Mierzwa, in Johnson and Menzies 1993).

In Ontario, this snake is strongly associated with wetlands and coniferous forest; it avoided open areas (roads, trails), open water, and mixed forest; hibernation sites were in wetlands and coniferous forest (Weatherhead and Prior 1992).

Adult Food Habits: Carnivore
Immature Food Habits: Carnivore
Food Comments: Primary foods in Illinois were voles, deer mice, shrews (Anton, in Johnson and Menzies 1993); one record of consumption of bird (bobwhite) eggs (Applegate 1995, Herpetol. Rev. 26:206). Voles dominated the diet in Wisconsin, where additional foods included other small mammals, birds, and snakes (see Ernst 1992).
Adult Phenology: Diurnal, Hibernates/aestivates
Immature Phenology: Diurnal, Hibernates/aestivates
Phenology Comments: In most areas, massasaugas are active from about April or May through October; they are inactive in cold weather. In Pennsylvania, massasaugas were active mainly 0900-1500 h (Reinert, cited by Ernst 1992).
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: See the online version of "The Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake Landowner Stewardhip Guide" (http://www.wincom.net/~snakes/homepage.html).
Management Requirements: Control of woody vegetation is needed to maintain suitable open habitat in some areas. In New York, massasaugas used artificial clearings in a shrub swamp; clearings were created by cutting and burning in late winter (Johnson 1992). See Johnson and Leopold (1998) for further information on habitat management in a central New York peatland.

See Jaworski (in Johnson and Menzies 1993) for information on woody plant control methods (hand cutting, mowing, burning, herbicides) used in Ohio. Burning should be done in spring before snake emergence from hibernation; mowing should be done when snakes are not likely to be on the surface. See Hay (in Johnson and Menzies 1993) for further suggestions.

In Wisconsin, repatriation in early summer appeared to be more favorable than late-summer releases (King et al. 2004).

Public education about rattlesnakes often is needed in an effective management program. In 2003, USFWS Region 3 published and helped to distribute a 10-page, full-color, educational brochure entitled "Live and Let Live: People and the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake," which was developed in conjunction with the Indiana Department of Natural Resource's Wildlife Diversity Section.

In a field study in Ontario, Hedgecock (in Johnson and Menzies 1993) found that snakes struck only when stepped on and then only 6% of the time. In a national park in Ontario, Prior and Weatherhead (1994) similarly found that massasaugas never struck in 174 field trials in which they approached snakes to within 0.5 m or less; in these same trials, most snakes did not rattle; they concluded that getting bitten by a massasauga was a very unlikely event.

See "The Eastern Massaasauga: Handbook for Land Managers" (2000), developed under USFWS Region 3 guidance.

Examples of conservation initiatives include the following (USFWS 2009):
Illinois: Carlyle Lake Project: Conducting surveys and radio-telemetry work at Carlyle Lake (Clinton County) to determine spatial & temporal habitat use. The 2009 field season will be the eleventh consecutive year of this research. Developing a CCA for the Carlyle Lake population. Northeast Illinois Project: Conducting surveys and habitat management assessments in Lake (Ryerson Forest Preserve), Cook [Potawatami Woods, Dam Number 1 Woods (two areas to include the Willow/Sanders tract), Plumb Creek Forest Preserve, and Jurgenson Woods Forest Preserve], and Will (Goodenow Grove Forest Preserve) Counties. Continuing habitat management actions as needed at the sites in Lake, Cook and Will Counties. Participating in the completion of an agreement with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Forest Preserve District of Lake County, and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to capture, house and breed eastern massasauga rattlesnakes from a non-recoverable population in northeastern Illinois.
Indiana: Developing and distributing education/outreach materials (including brochure and recommendations of how to approach landowners) for region-wide use.
Iowa: Sweet Marsh Wildlife Management Area: Conducting radio telemetry studies at Sweet Marsh Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Bremer County. Contacting pertinent private landowners adjacent to Sweet Marsh WMA. Developing a CCAA for Sweet Marsh population.
Michigan: Conducting ongoing surveys in known and potential massasauga areas to identify "core" protected properties in the following counties: Alcona, Allegan, Alpena, Barry, Benzie, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Cheboygan, Clinton, Crawford, Emmet, Huron, Iosco, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Kalkaska, Lapeer, Lenawee, Livingston, Mackinac, Manistee, Missaukee, Montcalm, Montmorency, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oakland, Oceana, Ogemaw, Presque Isle, Roscommon, Sanilac, St. Joseph, Van Buren, and Washtena. Conducting a habitat characterization for massasauga in Michigan. Developing a state-wide umbrella CCAA document.
Minnesota: Conducting surveys along the Mississippi River floodplains in Houston, Wabasha, and Winona Counties to determine eastern massasauga presence in this area.
Missouri: Investigating receptivity of Pershing State Park and pertinent adjacent landowners to conservation efforts on their lands and if receptive, developing CCA documents. Conducting surveys in other areas in the State to further define massasauga presence in Missouri.
Ohio: Conducting relative abundance surveys at Rome and Pallister Nature Preserves in Ashtabula County. Developed CCAA document for Rome Nature Preserve.
Wisconsin: An analysis of the vegetation and hydrologic conditions of the Chippewa River Bottoms was completed to determine the extent of change that has occurred since 1939. Conducting a 4-year status survey and telemetry study to aid in the development of a CCAA for Chippewa River Bottoms population in Buffalo, and Pepin counties.

Biological Research Needs: Additional research is needed in many aspects of life history and ecology. These include more studies dealing with home range, dispersal capability, predators and disease, demography, and habitat requirements.
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 10Nov2010
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Hammerson, G., and F. J. Dirrigl, Jr.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 13Oct2010
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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