Human-snake conflict mitigation: policies for relocating nuisance snakes in the U.S.
Taylor, Emily N.
Biological Sciences Department
California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo
San Luis Obispo, California USA
In recent years, relocation of nuisance snakes has become a widespread practice in the United States, aided by social media pages connecting people to volunteer and for-profit snake relocators. However, this has led to a growing disconnect between the individuals performing the relocations and the state wildlife agencies responsible for the policies, permitting, and training regarding nuisance snake management. Misinformation about permitting or training required for snake relocation abounds, and most relocators are unsure about requirements and often struggle to find relevant information and resources from the wildlife agencies responsible for policies. Additionally, many relocators use procedures that intentionally or unintentionally disregard the health and survival of the snakes and are instead intended only to mitigate human-wildlife conflict. To bridge this disconnect, we conducted a study to obtain data on policies, permitting, and training from the sole wildlife official responsible for nuisance snake relocations in each U.S. continental state. We compared the policies gathered from these officials with data on actual procedures being performed by snake relocators that we uncovered with another survey, including the relocators’ understanding of required permits, training, and best practices (e.g., how far to relocate snakes and other items). The final product of this study will be a database connecting relocators with policies and best practice information to assist them in conducting relocations legally, safely, and in the best interest of the snakes. This project will mitigate human-wildlife conflict by benefitting everyone involved, including the wildlife agencies, snake relocators, and the snakes being relocated.