Article Posted: April 04, 2003

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The Department of Natural Resources asks residents to report all eastern massasauga rattlesnake observations in Michigan as part of a multi-state effort in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“Last year’s reports provided some great information and helped us confirm massasaugas at several sites,” reported Lori Sargent, project coordinator.

The adult massasauga rattlesnake is thick-bodied and can be 18” to 30” in length. They are brown to grayish color with large brown blotches on their back and smaller lighter brown patches on their sides. This snake population has been declining due to habitat loss and human harassment.

“Michigan appears to be the remaining stronghold for this snake’s population,” said Raymond Rustem, DNR Natural Heritage Unit Supervisor. “When you look at any other state, there are only one-to-six localized populations. Michigan has massasauga populations ranging from Oakland County through southwest Michigan and populations scattered throughout northern Michigan.”

The DNR is interested in any massasauga sightings that you see from now and throughout the summer. A report form is available on the DNR web site, www.michigan.gov/dnr, under “wildlife observations.” To assist with verification, the observer should include a color photograph or slide of the observed snake. Do not pick the snake up or kill it. The report site does provide a color photograph of an adult massasauga along with photographs of a milk snake and a hog-nosed snake, which are often mistaken for a massasauga.

The massasauga rattlesnake is listed as a candidate species under the Federal Endangered Species Act. As part of the candidate status, the USFWS has initiated a survey to locate existing populations and establish the current range and status of massasauga.

The massasauga survey is being supported through Nongame Fish and Wildlife Funds and Federal State Wildlife Grants funding. You can support the nongame efforts by looking for the loon at your Secretary of State’s office and purchasing a Wildlife Habitat License plate for your vehicle.

Source: MDNR

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