WPC Protects Critical Habitat for Endangered Snake

Mon, Feb 13th 2012, 13:22. Filed under News Releases.

Pittsburgh, Pa. – February, 13 2012 – The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) today purchased 55 acres in Venango County to permanently protect the habitat of the eastern massasauga rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus catenatus), a state-endangered species.

“This acquisition supports the Conservancy’s longstanding focus on the eastern massasauga, including more than 25 years of scientific research,” said Jane Menchyk, WPC’s land protection specialist. “The goal in purchasing this property is to protect, restore and maintain some of the last remaining habitat for this species in Pennsylvania before it is lost forever.”

The acquisition and permanent protection of property during the 1950s and 60s that became Jennings Nature Reserve in Butler County was the Conservancy’s first protection of critical habitat for the snake.

Funded by a bequest from Helen Katz, WPC will own, manage and restore the property to reestablish habitat for the eastern massasauga. The property has more than 12 acres of wetlands, and 1,600 feet of stream runs through it. The property has natural habitat that is ideal for not only for eastern massasauga but many other wildlife species. It is not uncommon to find white-tailed deer, songbirds, wild turkey, ruffed grouse, woodcock and cottontail rabbit in the grass and underbrush of massasauga habitat.

The eastern massasauga is a current candidate for federal listing as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This small, secretive rattlesnake is also identified as a species of greatest conservation need in Pennsylvania’s Wildlife Action Plan, created to conserve wildlife and habitat before they become more rare and costly to protect.

Ryan Miller, WPC’s zoologist, explains how WPC protects this endangered snake through research and tagging in a YouTube video available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8V-l_WPDS0.

A brochure, “A Landowner’s Guide to the Eastern Massasauga in Pennsylvania: Management & Protection,” is available on the Conservancy’s website at: http://waterlandlife.org/assets/massasauga_LIP.pdf.




About the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy:
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC) enhances the region’s quality of life by protecting and restoring exceptional places. A private nonprofit conservation organization founded in 1932, WPC has helped to establish ten state parks, conserved more than 232,000 acres of natural lands and protected or restored more than 1,500 miles of rivers and streams. The Conservancy owns and operates Fallingwater, which symbolizes people living in harmony with nature. In addition, WPC enriches our region’s cities and towns through 140 community gardens and greenspaces that are planted with the help of 13,000 volunteers. The work of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is accomplished through the support of more than 11,000 members. For more information, visit WaterLandLife.org.

Media contact:

Eric Sloss
Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
(412) 586-2358


The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3)
of the Internal Revenue Code, and 100% of your donation is tax-deductable as allowed by law.