Translocations of Nuisance Timber Rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus): A Possible Management Solution

Bryan, Danny

Department of Biology

Cumberland University

Lebanon, TN USA

As human populations expand and encroach upon wildlife habitat, conflicts between humans and wildlife and destruction of habitat will increase, resulting in species decline worldwide. Translocation of many vertebrate and endangered plant species for augmentation of declining populations or repatriation of extirpated populations have been attempted, with varying degrees of success. Translocation of timber rattlesnakes (Crotalus horridus) offers an opportunity to remove snakes from areas near human habitation and restore or augment populations in more remote locations. Eleven, apparently healthy, nuisance timber rattlesnakes were captured or provided by Tennessee Wildlife Resources Officers and were implanted with radio transmitters. Nuisance rattlesnakes were released at known hibernacula of resident snakes at the time of ingress. All translocated snakes were moved > 2 km from their original capture site. Snakes were tracked using radio-telemetry periodically to determine if ingress occurred, and they were monitored to determine over-winter survival and movement patterns. All but one translocated rattlesnakes in this study survived the winter and three were killed shortly after egress. Sufficient data were collected for three translocated snakes to estimate home ranges. Over half of translocated rattlesnakes in this study appeared to establish residence in the area and displayed typical foraging patterns during the active season. They were also frequently observed in close proximity to resident snakes, perhaps indicating that conspecific trailing was occurring. These findings were consistent with other studies, indicating that translocation of adult rattlesnakes has potential as a management strategy.

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