PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.
The Prairie Rattlesnake is a heavy-bodied pit viper. It is tan in colour with darker bands or blotches along its back and dark tail rings which are usually olive to brown. Adults attain an average snout-vent length of 120 cm, and an average mass of 1000 g. Like all rattlesnakes, this species has a segmented rattle at the end of its tail, two heat sensing pits below its eyes and two retractable fangs in its upper jaw. The Prairie Rattlesnake is one of three extant rattlesnake species in Canada and has been the subject of numerous scientific investigations in Alberta and Saskatchewan. The Prairie Rattlesnake is a symbol of the Canadian Prairies, and the protection of its grassland habitat will contribute to the conservation of a globally imperilled ecosystem.
The species has undergone declines since the 1930s, primarily resulting from large-scale habitat loss from cultivation and increased road mortality. Some local populations have experienced substantial recent declines and the species still faces serious threats across its Canadian range. The species may become Threatened if factors suspected of negatively influencing its persistence are neither reversed nor managed with demonstrable effectiveness.
Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to "assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species".
COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings in this reporting year (October, 2014 to September, 2015) from November 23 to November 28, 2014 and from April 27 to May 1, 2015. During the current reporting period, COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 56 wildlife species.
The wildlife species assessment results for the 2014-2015 reporting period include the following:
Special Concern: 21
Data Deficient: 1
Not at Risk: 1
Of the 56 wildlife species examined, COSEWIC reviewed the classification of 40 that had been previously assessed. The review of classification for 24 of those wildlife species resulted in a confirmation of the same risk status as the previous assessment.
The Government of Canada is committed to preventing the disappearance of wildlife species at risk from our lands. As part of its strategy for realizing that commitment, on June 5, 2003, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species provided for under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Extirpated, Endangered and Threatened species on Schedule 1 benefit from the protection of prohibitions and recovery planning requirements under SARA. Special Concern species benefit from its management planning requirements. Schedule 1 has grown from the original 233 to 521 wildlife species at risk.
Please submit your comments byMay 4, 2016, for terrestrial species undergoing normal consultationsand byOctober 4, 2016, for terrestrial species undergoing extended consultations.For a description of the consultation paths these species will undergo, please see:Species at Risk Public Registry website