Parks and outdoor recreation areas often struggle to balance management for outdoor recreation with the protection of native flora and fauna. Additional complications can arise for land managers when recreation occurs in areas shared with wildlife that are perceived by humans to be dangerous. Despite these issues, many parks may inadvertently increase the potential for human–wildlife encounters through the creation of artificial forest gaps used for recreational purposes. We determined the potential for human encounters with venomous copperhead snakes (Agkistrodon contortrix) at a recreational park in southern Indiana before and after several simulated closures of recreational forest gaps. By restricting human access to artificial forest gaps, encounters with copperheads could be reduced by 1.5 to 8 times the observed encounter rate. We discuss conservation implications and provide suggestions for recreational park managers facing related concerns of human–wildlife encounters.

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