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SAVING THE EASTERN MASSASAUGA

The sound of a rattlesnake’s shaking tail can evoke a visceral response of fear in almost anyone. But in reality, snakes like the eastern massasauga have more reason to fear us than we have to fear them. Human development resulting in farms, roads, and homes has d rained this species’ wetland habitat so much that the snake has been eliminated in most of its territory.

Although the eastern massasauga can still be found in several eastern states and parts of Canada, its actual numbers are quite small. It’s found in isolated populations throughout its range and is currently considered imperiled in every state and province it occupies. The more its marshy haunts are drained and developed, the more the snake is pushed onto islands of habitat where survival is difficult. Its severe decline is a warning bell tolling the loss of North American wetlands.

The eastern massasauga was first listed as a candidate species in 1982. Candidate designation provides no protection for species, and species can remain in limbo on the list for years or even decades; under the second Bush administration, the number of species protected dropped to the lowest figure since the Endangered Species Act became law. So in 2004, the Center filed a petition to protect the eastern massasauga as part of our large-scale candidate petition project, aimed toward forcing the government to make progress in addressing its huge backlog of candidate species — including the massasauga.

 

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KEY DOCUMENTS
2005 Federal Endangered Species Act listing petition

ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT PROFILE

ACTION TIMELINE

NATURAL HISTORY

MEDIA
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Search our newsroom for the eastern massasauga

RELATED ISSUES
Candidate Project
The Endangered Species Act

Contact: Noah Greenwald
Photo © Mike Williams