Media Release      June 9 2015, Guelph, ON        For Immediate Release  Download

Ojibway Eastern Massasauga RattlesnakeThanks to new funding commitments from both the Provincial and Federal governments, an emergency recovery program is being launched in hopes of saving a unique population of the endangered Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake from imminent extinction.

The “Ojibway” population of Eastern Massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus catenatus) persists within the Ojibway Prairie Remnants of Windsor/LaSalle and is the last of only two remaining populations of this species in Canada’s Carolinian Zone. Unfortunately, the Ojibway population is now on the brink of extinction due to a history of habitat destruction, road mortality, intentional killing, and illegal collection for the pet trade. Because the remaining population is perilously small, drastic and emergency efforts are needed to save it from disappearing forever.

With three years of government financial support now secured, Wildlife Preservation Canada (WPC) is pleased to announce the Ojibway Prairie Remnants Reptile Recovery Program, a concerted effort to recover the Ojibway population of Eastern Massasauga while providing benefits to a suite of other Species at Risk at Ojibway Prairie. Under the program, WPC will begin emergency on-the-ground actions necessary to reduce major threats while laying the groundwork needed to begin a long-term recovery program. A team of experts, including representation from the Ojibway Nature Centre, is being convened to plan the implementation of various recovery projects, while a team of field technicians based in Windsor will begin enhancing habitat, assessing threats and monitoring Massasauga distribution and demographics.

WPC has secured the help of SCC Ecological to coordinate the program. Jonathan Choquette, Principal and Conservation Biologist at SCC Ecological, has over a decade of experience working with Ontario reptiles and amphibians and has recently worked on recovery initiatives for Wood Turtles and Queen Snakes. Funding is being provided by the Species at Risk Stewardship Fund (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry) and the Habitat Stewardship Program (Environment Canada).

For all inquiries please contact: Jonathan Choquette, Program Coordinator, OPR Reptile Recovery Program, (519) 731 3479