Impacts of the 2018 Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake Biological Opinion

February 13, 2019
Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake

Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake

Have you been required to coordinate for the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake, listed as federally threatened in 2016, for one of your projects?  If so, we expect that a 2018 Biological Opinion issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will most likely guide future best management practices (BMPs) for projects and Endangered Species Act Section 7 evaluations.

The 2018 document outlines procedures for federal agencies but will also apply to any group working with federal dollars, or groups working alongside Partners for Fish and Wildlife. Since the Eastern Massasauga is also state-listed in many instances, this guidance may affect how states begin to manage and permit local activities.  Although the Biological Opinion is targeted to federal agencies, any contractor or grantee working on habitat management and improvements may find the guidance important. It presents suggested or required BMPs for activities that are applicable to most situations where Massasaugas could be present.

Therefore, if your project triggers consultation for Eastern Massasauga, the agencies involved in your consultation will most likely use these BMPs as guidance for conservation measures.  Actions covered by the document include:

  • Prescribed fire
  • Brush cutting
  • Mowing
  • Herbicide application
  • Planting
  • Soil disking or tilling
  • Earthmoving
  • Hydrological alteration

Need help with Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake consultation? Contact our Reptile and Amphibian Survey Technical Leader, Teal Richards-Dimitrie (trichards-dimitrie @, and she and our approved surveyors will be happy to assist with moving your project forward.