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Park Begins Rattlesnake Study

Great Basin National Park

National Park News

In national parks, human-wildlife interactions are important resource management issues. Rattlesnakes and humans often encounter one another in park residential areas, visitor centers, roads and campgrounds. Because rattlesnakes are venomous, these encounters are viewed as conflicts and often result in the translocation of the offending snake.

When moved long distances from their capture sites (>1km), rattlesnake survival rates are significantly lower than non-translocated snakes. Because of this reduced survivorship, short distance (<100 meters) translocations of rattlesnakes are the preferred management option in national parks.

In Great Basin National Park, rattlesnake-human conflicts arise several times each year. To understand the effects and effectiveness of short distance translocation, resource management has initiated a study on Great Basin rattlesnakes (Crotalus lutosus). With the assistance of a veterinarian, wildlife biologists surgically implanted three male Great Basin rattlesnakes with temperature sensing radio transmitters. The snakes were released within 100 meters of their capture site. Each snake’s location and temperature is recorded weekly.

In addition to providing data to managers about the effects of translocation on the rattlesnakes and the return rates of rattlesnakes to their capture sites, this study will provide information about natural history, hibernacula, and movement patterns. These data will be useful in managing the snakes when conflicts arise.


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