Alberta Species at Risk Report No. In Canada, Prairie Rattlesnakes often hibernate communally with other species such as: Bullsnakes, Wandering Gartersnakes (Thamnophis elegans vagrans), Plains Gartersnakes (Thamnophis radix) and Eastern Yellow-Belly Racers (Coluber constrictor flaviventris) (Kissner et al. Table 2. Provincial Highways Traffic Volumes 2010. B) The rattlesnake population would start to increase. The rate of population decline between years was estimated to be 0.69 (2004 - 2005) and 0.73 (2005 – 2006) using the Pradel model. Klauber, L. M. 1997. Edmonton Journal, Edmonton, AB. 2014). Restoration of foothills rough fescue grassland following pipeline disturbance in southwestern Alberta. The Saskatchewan Wildlife Act prohibits unauthorized killing, disturbance, collection, harvest, capture, sale and export of wildlife, including Prairie Rattlesnakes, without a permit (Government of Saskatchewan 2007). Increase east and southeast of Medicine Hat, AB, Increase north of Dinosaur Provincial Park, AB, and. Geographic variation, convergent crypsis and mimicry in gopher snakes (Pituophis melanoleucus) and western rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridis). comm. Map. [accessed Nov. 2013]. 1996), Canada: (Gannon and Secoy 1984; Macartney and Weichel 1993; Kissner et al. Scientific and standard English names of amphibians and reptiles of North America north of Mexico, with comments regarding confidence in our understanding. Furthermore, ‘percent bush cover’ and ‘proximity to holes’ were habitat variables that were positively associated with snake use (Gardiner 2012). Queen's Printer. 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. comm. NatureServe. 2013), and. Parks Canada Agency. NatureServe. 2013), Val Marie Reservoir Migratory Bird Sanctuary, SK, Writing-on-Stone PP (Provincial Park), AB, Twin River Heritage Rangeland NA (Natural Area), AB, Kennedy Coulee ER (Ecological Reserve), AB, Causes of recent declines at dens are presumed and some can be reduced or reversed but range-wide, they have not ceased, No (there is only one population in Canada), Possible in localized areas near the U.S. border (e.g., Frenchman and Milk river watersheds), but unlikely due to high fidelity to hibernacula and long time period required for colonization, Yes, there is a risk that hibernacula could be destroyed or resident snakes killed en masse if hibernacula locations are available to the public with high location accuracy. Guidelines for Recognizing Designatable Units. (1) The rattlesnake population would start to decrease. The Committee meets to consider status reports on candidate species. M.E.Des dissertation, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada. Prairie Rattlesnake generation time (the average age of parents of the current cohort) is 13 - 14 years. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). 2013) and b) 44 ‘element occurrences’ (assumed to be synonymous with ‘locations’) have been identified by provincial biologists by applying appropriate separation distances (NatureServe 2013) to contemporary occurrence data (Cartier pers. Much of the river valley in Lethbridge has been protected since 1977 as a Restricted Development Area under the Department of Environment Act, which provides a form of control to restrict land use change and development in the river valley (LNG and RCP 2008). Abundance of all snakes over 1 year of age at the largest known den in Alberta (Bindloss Den) is estimated to have declined by 50% over a three year period from 2003 - 2006 (Proctor et al. Newman, E., P. Hartline. Prepared by TERA Environmental Consultants for MULTISAR and Alberta Conservation Association, Calgary, AB. The length of hibernation is dependent on location. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins Press. Given their dispersal characteristics, many snakes will cross anthropogenic landscapes and be subject to some form of persecution. Utilization of Air Photo Interpretation to Locate Prairie Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis viridis) Hibernacula in the South Saskatchewan River Valley. 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. Under this act, it is prohibited within National Parks to: 1) carry out any action that unreasonably interferes with fauna, or 2) traffic in any wild animal. Queen's Printer. These include: a) the presence of two migration cohorts using a given hibernacula, which may buffer the sudden destruction or reduction in quality of either upland or riparian habitat (see Dispersal and Migration), b) the use of anthropogenic structures for dispersal, migration, hibernation and cover (e.g., roadside swales and concrete rubble; Andrus 2010), c) the use of transient structures as gestation sites (e.g., wood piles: Martinson 2009a), d) the use of hibernacula as rookeries when the latter features are limiting (Andrus 2010), and, e) the use of habitat in close proximity to humans and domestic animals (Andrus 2010). 2013), Adult/sub-adult sex ratio (males : females), Canada: (Macartney and Weichel 1993; Kissner et al. The conversion of native prairie to intensive agriculture is predicted to continue, albeit at a slower rate, into the future (see Habitat Trends). Techniques aimed at mitigating the risk of road mortality to Prairie Rattlesnakes have been implemented on CFB Suffield (Didiuk 2003, as cited by AESRD and ACA 2012). Consequently, they help to control these species and reduce the risk of transmittable disease to humans, like the Hantavirus. data). Home range size and length varies widely among Prairie Rattlesnakes in Canada (Table 1). 1998). body parts are source of valuable material, Reproductive Biology and Phylogeny of Snakes, Longevity of Reptiles and Amphibians in North American Collections, The Venomous Reptiles of the Western Hemisphere, Volume 2, Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation, Amphibians and Reptiles of Baja California, Including Its Pacific Islands and the Islands in the Sea of Cortés (Organisms and Environments), Bulletin of the Maryland Herpetological Society, A Statistical Study of the Rattlesnakes VI. In a certain ecosystem, rattlesnakes are predators of prairie dogs. Because dry prairies are not useful for agricultural or business development, they retain much of their natural landscape. Web Site: [accessed Oct. 2013]. A single designatable unit is proposed for the Prairie Rattlesnake in Canada as this species does not meet the COSEWIC (2011a) criteria based on ‘subspecies or varieties’ (see Name and Classification) or ‘discrete and evolutionarily significant populations’. Observations outside the historical area of occupancy are most likely attributed to increased search effort as opposed to natural colonizations (see Search Effort; Fluctuations and Trends), and may represent previously unknown den sites and/or snakes migrating from known den sites. Cormier, R. 2013. ("COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Prairie Rattlesnake Crotalus viridis in Canada", 2015), Prairie rattlesnakes have a weak sense of sight. 1996. Field Herpetologist, Brandon, MB. This species is often associated with river and coulee bottoms, and upland grasslands or badlands. Linzey, D. 2012. These activities are associated with the following threat categories: roads and railroads, hunting and collecting, annual and perennial non-timber crops, oil and gas drilling, and housing and urban areas. (2010), snakes on either side of a major four-lane highway (HWY 401: 18,000 – 24,000 vehicles per day; MTO 2010) were not genetically differentiated. SCHEDULE 1 (Subsections 2(1), 42(2) and 68(2)): LIST OF WILDLIFE SPECIES AT RISK. (2009) identified a potential link between a 50% decline in abundance of Prairie Rattlesnakes at a hibernaculum and a very rapid increase in the number of gas wells drilled within a 15 km radius of the site; however, they did identify other potential causes for the apparent decline such as variation in sampling efficiency and the unlikely event of shifting den use. 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). 2013), it is possible that a large portion of the population that used the den perished (AESRD and ACA 2012). 2012. There is currently limited evidence to determine the amount of habitat necessary to sustain a population of Prairie Rattlesnakes in the long term. 1998. 2009. Illegal collection of Prairie Rattlesnakes for the pet trade is known to occur in Alberta. The Psychological Record, 28/3: 363-368. Environment Canada. Jorgenson (2004, as cited by AESRD and ACA 2012) estimated that Prairie Rattlesnakes had an 11 - 51% chance of being killed during a single crossing event on a road used by an average of 488 vehicles per day, and a 45 - 98% chance of being killed during a single crossing event on a road with an average of 2,566 vehicles per day. Loss of habitat and critical habitat features (e.g., hibernacula) as a result of urban development have occurred and are projected to continue. Pendlebury (1977) presumed that the change from rangeland to irrigated cultivation was contributing to restricting the species to the immediate vicinity of coulees where tillage is not possible. 2001. Canadian Herpetologist 3(2): 10-13. Prairie Rattlesnake habitat in the northern part of its U.S. range is also in decline, primarily due to the conversion of grassland habitat to intensive agriculture (Wright and Wimberly 2013). There are ~ 230 unique locations (i.e., hibernacula) of this species in Canada. 2013. Major pipeline projects that are proposed through Prairie Rattlesnake range include TransCanada’s Energy East and Keystone XL pipelines. Animals with indeterminate growth continue to grow throughout their lives. Based on a limited number of observations and reports (including possible “chance” migrations) the historical range of the species may have extended as far north as Trochu, AB along the Red Deer River, almost as far west as Calgary, AB along the Bow River, as far east as Matador, SK along the South Saskatchewan River, and as far north as Eastend, SK along the Frenchman River (Figure 5; Pendlebury 1977). Ashton, K. G. and A. D. de Queiroz. 2011. If the prairie dog population started to increase, how would the ecosystem most likely regain stability? Diet of the Prairie Rattlesnake, (Crotalus viridis viridis), in southeastern Alberta. 608 pp. The size of a hibernaculum varies considerably and multiple entrance holes may be considered part of a single ‘complex’. Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, Fish and Wildlife Division, Edmonton, AB. Prairie rattlesnake adults range between 45.3 and 165 cm in length and weigh 227 to 361 g. They possess a light brown to black tint on their dorsum and a yellow stripe located on their head. Venomous snakebites in the United States: Management review and update. It arose from the need for a single, official, scientifically sound, national listing of wildlife species at risk. Prairie Rattlesnakes den communally, but range up to 7 miles from the dens during the summer. They also perceive in infrared spectrum and can see the heat that radiates from their surroundings. Amphibians and Reptiles of Baja California, Including Its Pacific Islands and the Islands in the Sea of Cortés (Organisms and Environments). Research Scientist – Curator of Vertebrate Zoology, Royal Saskatchewan Museum, Regina, SK. There are no relationships between mates and very little competition occurs between male snakes when a female is present. Estimates exclude two recent observations from Drumheller not yet vouched by professionals (see Canadian Range). 2013. For example, 90% of the land base of the prairie ecozones in both Saskatchewan (Thorpe pers. Figure 9. If the prairie dog population started to increase, how would the ecosystem most likely regain stability? 2013). Journal of Zoology 282(1): 13-20. This estimate was calculated in two ways: 1) Assuming that native prairie was lost at an average rate of ~ 0.44% per year from 1985 – 2000 (see above) and assuming that this rate has continued (and will continue) during the period from 2001 – 2024 (0.44% multiplied by 40 years = 17.60%), and, 2) assuming that the rate of decline in ‘natural area’ within the majority of Prairie Rattlesnake range was an average of 2 - 8% over the 31 year period from 1971 – 2001 (~ 0.7 – 2.7% of ‘natural land’ lost per decade; Figure 8, 9), and, assuming this rate of loss has continued (and will continue) during the period from 2002 – 2024 (~ 0.7 – 2.7% multiplied by 4 decades = 2.8 – 10.8%). 2013). Conservation Officer, Intelligence and Investigations Section, Ministry of Natural Resources, Peterborough, ON. Grasslands National Park: Prairie Notes. Chemical Senses, 37/9: 883-896. The infrared "vision" of snakes. The rattlesnake population would start to decrease. Although the natural lifespan of a particular hibernaculum is unknown, some of the oldest den sites in Alberta were originally reported in the 1940s and 1950s and were confirmed active at least 60-70 years later (i.e., three to six Prairie Rattlesnake generations; Kissner and Nicholson 2003). 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. It has been suggested in AESRD and ACA (2012) that a 25 - 30 km radius be placed around hibernacula to protect potential summer habitat for Prairie Rattlesnakes. Colouration makes rattlesnakes hard to see and avoid on gravel or dirt roads (Martinson pers. Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation. (Bowler and Snider, 1992). chemicals released into air or water that are detected by and responded to by other animals of the same species, breeding is confined to a particular season, reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female. Biochemistry, 16/11: 2546–2553. The Western High Plains of Kansas is a flat to rolling cropland with only a few streams; it is the driest region of Kansas. Unpublished data. comm. Historical biogeography of the Western Rattlesnake (Serpentes: Viperidae: Crotalus viridis) inferred from mitochondrial DNA sequence information. The hemipenes have a hooked shape to help attach to the female reproductive organs. Email correspondence to Jonathan Choquette. Prairie rattlesnake hibernation can nearly double in time in the northern regions because of this climate factor. In Alberta, the estimated number of hibernacula almost doubled from 107 in 2002 (Kissner and Nicholson 2003), to 192 (183 - 242) in 2012 (AESRD and ACA 2012). 2013. 2009a. 1977. Over half of the EOO and the majority of the IAO of the Prairie Rattlesnake in Canada are within the province of Alberta. A terrestrial biome. 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). Macartney, M., P. Gregory. The lack of knowledge about the location of rookery sites poses a further challenge for protecting important habitat features. Topics November 2013. Journal of Herpetology 43(4): 646-656. June 2013. Conant, R. and J. T. Collins. comm. Because of the dumbbell-shaped home ranges characteristic of the species (see Biology), kernels are probably better estimators of the actual area used within a home range (e.g., 12 - 15 ha) than are minimum convex polygons (Gardiner 2012; 2013). In Saskatchewan, Poulin and Didiuk (2008) found negative attitudes of landowners towards snake research projects and snakes in general in the area of the Val Marie PFRA. Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation (ATPR). The scope is 70-100%; however, the actual value is probably closer to the lower end of this range due to the presence of snakes which migrate relatively short distances from dens. The body ranges from greenish gray to greenish brown in colour, with dark blotches on the back and a cream-coloured underbelly. Lives in the lower Yellowstone River areas of the park, including Reese Creek, Stephens Creek, and Rattlesnake Butte, where the habitat is drier and warmer than elsewhere in the park. Defensive behavior of female prairie rattlesnakes (Crotalus viridis) changes after parturition. Kardong, K., V. Bels. 2013. The maximum known lifespan in captivity was 24.1 years. Temperate grasslands are considered among the most threatened biomes on Earth (WCPA 2010), and once converted to another land use (e.g., cultivation), they are very difficult to restore (Alberta NAWMP Partnership 2008). Graves, B. The greater abundance of small mammals in prairie dog colonies (Agnew et al. Is there sufficient habitat for immigrants in Canada? 2009) and continue to the point of extirpation, we would expect at least a 30% decline in the number of Prairie Rattlesnake locations in Canada from the 1990s to the 2030s (i.e., 40 years/three generations). Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, Edmonton, AB. Noticeable natural changes in population size or composition would be expected to occur very gradually given such a survivorship pattern. 2008. (1996) estimated abundance of Prairie Rattlesnakes along the Frenchman River (Grasslands National Park) based on intensive population estimates at two of the largest dens as well as less intensive monitoring of 10 additional dens (methods unknown). Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. 1989. 20 pp. 2007. The authors thank the COSEWIC Secretariat for assisting with distribution calculations and administration duties. (2014) found little evidence for genetic differentiation between Prairie Rattlesnakes separated by both the City of Medicine Hat and the Trans-Canada Highway (8,535 – 30,291 vehicles per day; Alberta Transportation 2011). 103. Further to the Terms and conditions for this website, some of the photos, drawings, and graphical elements found in material produced by COSEWIC are subject to copyrights held by other organizations and by individuals. Alberta Species at Risk Report. City of Lethbridge. The contemporary distribution of the Prairie Rattlesnake in Canada (i.e., extent of occurrence) has probably been relatively stable over the last three generations (~40 years, 1973-2013). The Prairie Rattlesnake is not offered any US federal or international protection. 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. Also, in Lethbridge AB, where the upland is heavily urbanized, all radio-tracked rattlesnakes migrated short distances from dens and preferred riparian areas (Table 1; Andrus 2010). coyote B. cactus horned lizard c. low rainfall D. STATION 1 Living/ Non-Living What are some examples of non-living factors within an ecosystem? For example, overall loss of native grassland in the Canadian prairies occurred at a rate of ~ 0.44% per year from 1985 - 2000 due to the expansion of tillage (Alberta NAWMP Partnership 2008). Using Macartney and Weichel’s (1993) original conservative estimate of 1,260 individuals (before accounting for undetected hibernacula) across 17 known dens, and assuming equal abundance across all dens, we are left with an estimate of 889 snakes across the 12 dens known from the South Saskatchewan River at the time. Predators of these rattlesnakes include red-shouldered hawks (Buteo lineatus), and greater roadrunners (Geococcyx californianus). Prairie rattlesnakes hare independent upon hatching and reach sexual maturity after 2 to 3 years. Adult Prairie Rattlesnakes prey heavily upon burrowing small mammals such as Sagebrush Vole (Lemmiscus curtatus), Meadow Vole (Microtus pennsylvanicus), Black-tailed Prairie Dog, Olive-backed Pocket Mouse (Perognathus maniculatus), Northern Pocket Gopher (Thomomys talpoides)and Richardson’s Ground Squirrel (Hill et al. [accessed July 2013]. an animal which has an organ capable of injecting a poisonous substance into a wound (for example, scorpions, jellyfish, and rattlesnakes). 2009. In Saskatchewan, 23 Prairie Rattlesnake dens were confirmed over the course of fieldwork from 1989-1991 (Macartney and Weichel 1993) and at least three additional dens have been reported since that time (Poulin and Didiuk 2008; Kissner et al. In winter months prairie rattlesnakes hibernate. The driving ecological process of alter- nating flooding and drying from seasonal and inter- annual inputs of slightly saline Rattlesnake Creek and hypersaline groundwater seepage created and main- tained the important salt marsh ecosystem. The Prairie Rattlesnake displays physiological and behavioural adaptations to survive cold climates: underground hibernation, suppressed metabolic activity during winter, and ability to survive significant weight loss over winter (Gannon and Secoy 1984). These requirements may sometimes be relaxed on public land when additional mitigation measures are used, and the requirement to meet these setbacks on private land is not legislated. 2. Alberta NAWMP Implementation Plan 2007-2012. 1533 pp. Martinson, A. and J. Wielki. 2000; Ashton and de Queiroz 2001), Prairie Rattlesnake, Crotalus viridis, is now considered a distinct species from Western Rattlesnake, Crotalus oreganus, (Crother et al. Frost, D., G. Hammerson, G. Santos-Barrera. Federally owned land within the range of the Prairie Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis) in Canada. Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB. Prairie Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis viridis) Monitoring in Alberta - Preliminary Investigations (2000). Around rookeries, all activities have a 200 m setback between 15 March and 31 October, and a 50 m setback between 1 November and 14 March. Comparative venomics of the prairie rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis viridis) from Colorado. At least 4,550 km2 of land within the range of the Prairie Rattlesnake is owned by federal and provincial governments, combined. comm. High migration route fidelity (see Dispersal and Migration) means individual snakes may cross the same road(s) twice per season. September 10, 2017 1988. Average home range size of the Prairie Rattlesnake in Canada ranges from 4 to 109 ha. 2009. Lombard North Group Limited and Reid Crother & Partners Limited (LNG and RCP). Snake Conservation Research and Management 2002. 1999) and the likelihood of associated population declines. MacKenzie, J. A conservative estimate of the 14,900 (13,600 – 18,900) mature individuals in Canada (to the nearest 100) is achieved by adding the abundance estimates presented above for Saskatchewan (2,227 [1550 – 2904]) and Alberta (12,672 [12,078 - 15,972]). Prairies Ecozone. T/852. comm. 2012. Park Warden, Parks Canada Agency, Val Marie, SK. (See Canadian Range). The Prairie Rattlesnake is a symbol of the Canadian Prairies, and the protection of its grassland habitat will contribute to the conservation of a globally imperilled ecosystem. Certain behavioural traits of Prairie Rattlesnakes limit their ability to adapt to human-induced threats and/or make them more vulnerable to threats. Rattlesnake Crotalus viridis ) changes after parturition their tail to rattle and warn predator... Include Grand Canyon rattlesnakes ( Crotalus viridis ceberus ) have pink and red shades on their ventral sides, well. Concolor ) have a strong sense of chemical detection that helps them hunt prey 2010. In continuous use for many decades ( Macartney and Weichel 1993 ) females give birth to months. To reproduction ) Gates, B. O'Connell, D. L. Parker and C. M. Somers University! And shrub cover around the Site by taking our survey the latter region are separated from the....: 5345 – 5358 National Park, Alberta, Canada rely heavily on ventral. 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