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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Human–snake conflict results in negative outcomes for people and snakes, and if left unmanaged, could undermine conservation efforts. One approach to managing conflict between people and snakes is to use signage to inform members of the public on the presence of venomous snakes and measures to prevent snakebites. To be an effective tool, however, signs must first be noticed, then read and understood by the target audience. As part of conservation efforts targeting eastern massasauga rattlesnakes (Sistrurus catenatus) in southwestern Ontario, Canada, we tested the effectiveness of signage at increasing awareness of its presence, status and threats, and snakebite prevention. We installed 6 informational signs at trailheads in a park occupied by massasaugas and conducted a random questionnaire survey of visitors during a 3-week period before (n = 51) and after (n = 54) sign installation. Awareness of the presence of massasauga habitat increased significantly after sign installation, whereas awareness of status, threats, and snakebite prevention methods did not change. Our results suggest that informational signs were effective, to some degree, at short-term information sharing with recreationists in the context of venomous snake conservation. This cost-effective approach warrants consideration as part of an overall strategy to mitigate human–snake conflict.

Additional Files

Park User Questionnaire 2016_Before.pdf (241 kB)
Park user questionnaire (before)

Park User Questionnaire 2016_After.pdf (247 kB)
Park user questionnaire (after)