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Tuesday, January 26 • 2:20pm - 2:40pm
The Massasauga at Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area, Ohio

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AUTHORS: Doug Wynn, The Ohio State University

ABSTRACT: The Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area is a 9,230 acre hunting, trapping, and fishing site administered by the Ohio Division of Wildlife. Approximately one half is designated wildlife refuge and inaccessible without a permit. Its prairies are inhabited by three Ohio endangered snakes – the massasauga, smooth greensnake, and the plains gartersnake, and the state threatened Kirtland’s snake. Informal surveys for the massasauga were initiated in 1979 and continued sporadically until 1995 when the Division requested that a reptile survey protocol be developed and applied at Killdeer Plains. Three methods were evaluated: time-constrained visual searching, drift fences with traps, and cover sheets. The study continued through the 1996 and 1997 seasons. Cover sheets were the most productive method for finding massasaugas with 65.6% (n=362) of the snakes associated with coversheets. Fewer snakes, (34.3%, n=189), were not utilizing coversheets. Surveys eventually focused on two sites for 18 subsequent years. In 2015 seven sites, with different management histories and futures, were identified and surveys continue. Nine hundred fifty-six massasauga encounters have occurred with 602 captures. The number of captures per year range from one to sixty. Eighteen pregnant individuals were captured in mid-summers and maintained in captivity until giving birth. The average litter size was 7.8, (1-12). In addition twenty-six pregnant females were palpated and immediately released. Their average litter size was also 7.8 (5 -14). The newborn (n=161) weighed an average of 10.42 g (5.49-19.54 g). All captive females gave birth in August and the earliest observed young-of-year in the wild was July 30 with the majority occurring in August. The captive born young shed four to six days after birth. Adults were found in pre-shedding conditions from May 15 to Sept 16 with most occurring in May, June, and July. Surveys are still underway and slated to continue until July 2016.

Tuesday January 26, 2016 2:20pm - 2:40pm EST