Warning This Web page has been archived on the Web.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived on the Web is for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It has not been altered or updated after the date of archiving. Web pages that are archived on the Web are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards, as per the Policy on Communications and Federal Identity.

Skip booklet index and go to page content

Recovery Strategy for the Eastern Hog-nosed Snake (Heterodon platirhinos) in Canada (Proposed)

Eastern Hog-nosed Snake. Photo courtesy of Glenn Cunnington

Eastern Hog-nosed Snake


December 2008

Strategic Environmental Assessment Statement

About the Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series

What is the Species at Risk Act (SARA)?

SARA is the Act developed by the federal government as a key contribution to the common national effort to protect and conserve species at risk in Canada. SARA came into force in 2003 and one of its purposes is“to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity.”

What is recovery?

In the context of species at risk conservation, recovery is the process by which the decline of an endangered, threatened, or extirpated species is arrested or reversed and threats are removed or reduced to improve the likelihood of the species’ persistence in the wild. A species will be considered recovered when its long-term persistence in the wild has been secured.

What is a recovery strategy?

A recovery strategy is a planning document that identifies what needs to be done to arrest or reverse the decline of a species. It sets goals and objectives and identifies the main areas of activities to be undertaken. Detailed planning is done at the action plan stage.

Recovery strategy development is a commitment of all provinces and territories and of three federal agencies -- Environment Canada, Parks Canada Agency, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada -- under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk. Sections 37–46 of SARA outline both the required content and the process for developing recovery strategies published in this series.

Depending on the status of the species and when it was assessed, a recovery strategy has to be developed within one to two years after the species is added to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Three to four years is allowed for those species that were automatically listed when SARA came into force.

What’s next?

In most cases, one or more action plans will be developed to define and guide implementation of the recovery strategy. Nevertheless, directions set in the recovery strategy are sufficient to begin involving communities, land users, and conservationists in recovery implementation. Cost-effective measures to prevent the reduction or loss of the species should not be postponed for lack of full scientific certainty.

The series

This series presents the recovery strategies prepared or adopted by the federal government under SARA. New documents will be added regularly as species get listed and as strategies are updated.

To learn more

To learn more about the Species at Risk Act and recovery initiatives, please consult the SARA Public Registry and the Web site of the Recovery Secretariat (http://www.speciesatrisk.gc.ca/recovery/).

Recommended citation:

Seburn, D. 2008. Recovery Strategy for the Eastern Hog-nosed Snake (Heterodon platirhinos) in Canada. Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Parks Canada Agency, Ottawa. vi + 24pp.

Additional copies:

You can download additional copies from the SARA Public Registry.

Cover illustration: Photo courtesy of Glenn Cunnington

Également disponible en français sous le titre :

« Programme de rétablissement de la couleuvre à nez plat (Heterodon platirhinos) au Canada »

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of the Environment, 2008. All rights reserved.

ISBN to come

Catalogue no. to come

Content (excluding the illustrations) may be used without permission, with appropriate credit to the source.


Under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk (1996), the federal, provincial, and territorial governments agreed to work together on legislation, programs, and policies to protect wildlife species at risk throughout Canada. The Species at Risk Act (S.C. 2002, c.29) (SARA) requires that federal competent ministers prepare recovery strategies for listed Extirpated, Endangered and Threatened species.

The Minister of the Environment presents this document as the recovery strategy for the Eastern Hog-nosed Snake as required under SARA. It has been prepared in cooperation with the jurisdictions responsible for the species, as described in the Preface. The Minister invites other jurisdictions and organizations that may be involved in recovering the species to use this recovery strategy as advice to guide their actions.

The goals, objectives and recovery approaches identified in the strategy are based on the best existing knowledge and are subject to modifications resulting from new findings and revised objectives.

This recovery strategy will be the basis for one or more action plans that will provide further details regarding measures to be taken to support protection and recovery of the species. Success in the recovery of this species depends on the commitment and cooperation of many different constituencies that will be involved in implementing the actions identified in this strategy. In the spirit of the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk, all Canadians are invited to join in supporting and implementing this strategy for the benefit of the species and of Canadian society as a whole. The Minister of the Environment will report on progress within five years.


This recovery strategy was developed by David Seburn, ecological consultant, with the assistance of the Eastern Foxsnake/Eastern Hog-nosed Snake Recovery Team.


I would like to thank all of the members of the Eastern Foxsnake and Eastern Hog-nosed Snake Recovery team for their participation in this report. Their thoughtful review of earlier drafts of this document is greatly appreciated. The present document also benefited from review comments by Joseph Cebek (Trent University), Paula Julio, Todd Norris, Greg Deyne, Burke Korol, Brian Huis, Alan Dextrase, Daraleigh Irving and Richard Doucette (MNR), Joan Chamberlain and former team member Don Rivard (Parks Canada), and Kate Hayes and Mary Vallianatos (CWS-ON). Comments were incorporated by Anna Lawson. The document was then graciously peer reviewed by Dr. Michael Plummer (Harding University, Arkansas) and Dr. Pat Weatherhead (Illinois University). The entire review process was led by past co-chairs Brian Hutchinson, Gary Allen, and Deb Jacobs, with assistance from Angela McConnell, and subsequently by co-chairs Gary Allen and Angela McConnell.

Strategic Environmental Assessment Statement

A strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is conducted on all Species at Risk Act recovery strategies, in accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals (2004). The purpose of a SEA is to incorporate environmental considerations into the development of public policies, plans, and program proposals to support environmentally sound decision-making.

Recovery planning is intended to benefit species at risk and biodiversity in general. However, it is recognized that strategies may also inadvertently lead to environmental effects beyond the intended benefits. Environmental effects, including impacts to non-target species and the environment, were considered during recovery planning. The SEA is incorporated directly into the strategy and also summarized below.

This Recovery Strategy will clearly benefit the environment by promoting the recovery of the Eastern Hog-nosed Snake. Education initiatives will benefit Eastern Hog-nosed Snake, in addition to other reptiles, including other Species at Risk (e.g. Eastern Foxsnake, Milksnake). The potential for the strategy to inadvertently lead to adverse effects on other species was considered. The SEA concluded that this strategy will clearly benefit the environment and other species through conservation, management, stewardship and research, and will not entail any significant adverse effects. Refer to the following sections of the document in particular: description of the species' needs – Ecological Role, Habitat and biological needs, and Limiting factors (Section 1.4.3); broad strategies to be taken to address threats (Section 2.4.1, Table 2); and Effects on Other Species (Section 2.8).


SARA defines residence as:

"a dwelling-place, such as a den, nest or other similar area or place, that is occupied or habitually occupied by one or more individuals during all or part of their life cycles, including breeding, rearing, staging, wintering, feeding or hibernating" [SARA S2(1)].

Residence descriptions, or the rationale for why the residence concept does not apply to a given species, are posted on the SARA public registry.


This Recovery Strategy addresses the recovery of Eastern Hog-nosed Snake. In Canada, the range of this species is limited to the province of Ontario.

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Parks Canada Agency and the Canadian Wildlife Service worked in cooperation to develop this Recovery Strategy. All responsible jurisdictions reviewed and acknowledged receipt of the strategy. The proposed strategy meets SARA requirements in terms of content and process (Sections 39-41).

Document Information