Management of rattlesnake-human interaction: the effects of short-distance translocation on Crotalus O. Oreganus

Brown, Jeffery Robert
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University of Guelph

Short-distance translocation (SDT) is commonly used to mitigate rattlesnake-human interaction, yet little is known about the success rate, nor the effects of translocation on the spatial ecology, behaviour, and welfare of rattlesnakes. Because rattlesnakes demonstrate homing behaviour, I predicted that after SDT snakes would return to capture locations, which would increase rattlesnake movements and activity range size and ultimately have negative effects on body condition, behaviour, and mortality rates. I used radio-telemetry to monitor 28 Western Rattlesnakes ('Crotalus o. oreganus') near Osoyoos, BC in 2004 and 2005. Forty seven 500m SDTs were performed on 14 transmittered individuals. Translocated rattlesnakes moved further than control rattlesnakes but there was no evidence of an effect on frequency of movements or size of activity ranges. Although SDT snakes moved further, there was no evidence body condition, behaviour, or mortality rates were affected by SDT. SDT was a viable short-term solution to rattlesnake-human interaction but failed as a stand alone long-term management strategy due to high rates of return.

Rattlesnakes, Human interaction, Short-distance translocation, Welfare, Spatial ecology