Monday, October 10, 2016

Western Rattlesnake


Population declines in Species at Risk Snakes with a focus on Western Rattlesnake (Crotalus o. oreganus)


Purpose: To determine the health and population size, dispersal and survival of western rattlesnakes and methods of managing human-snake interactions to conserve snake populations

This research addresses threats to SAR herpetofauna on federal lands and private lands (vineyards). It is a collaboration of ECCC and Osoyoos Indian band, Mission Hill and Thompson Rivers University and National Research Council. In the south Okanagan valley, this research measures the impact of human developments on health and survival of western rattlesnakes in 3 projects: 

1) This research is conducted on Indian Reserve lands to assess the effects of translocation of rattlesnakes, the effects of condos, vineyards and golf courses, plus associated human and vehicle movements, on rattlesnake health. In collaboration with Osoyoos Indian Band, and Thompson Rivers Univers (TRU), at the Nk'Mip Desert lands, telemetry and mark recapture is conducted to quantify the movements and population size. Small mammal trapping provides an indication of changes in food base.

2) A complimentary project on a local vineyard examines the effects of novel habitat enhancement for snakes which we call snake refugia with natural vegetation (monitored by wildlife cams) . We hope this will also enhance beneficial insects within the vineyards. 

3) On federal lands at White Lake in the Okanagan valley, an examination of population size of rattlesnakes, and tiger salamanders and relative risk to the population survival of road mortality in these populations was initiated in 2015.

4) Other studies on Great Basin gophersnake (see White et al. below) have been conducted in the Okanagan valley by our team and incidental sightings of Desert night-snake are ongoing within this research.