Intentional Persecution

Reptiles and amphibians are among the least understood of Canada’s wildlife. Cultural and religious discrimination continue to spread fear and misinformation about amphibians and reptiles, particularly large snakes and Snapping Turtles, resulting in a high degree of ongoing persecution of these species in Canada. Rattlesnakes are most severely affected by wanton killing, despite the fact that these species pose very little real threat to humans. The Timber Rattlesnake was extirpated from Canada in the 1940s, largely as a result of human persecution, while all three remaining rattlesnake species in Canada are now listed as species at risk. Irrational fear and a lack of knowledge about Canada’s snakes also results in the ongoing persecution of harmless snake species, particularly those that resemble rattlesnakes in pattern or behaviour. In fact, some species are even targeted for persecution due to a perceived resemblance to venomous species that don’t occur anywhere near Canada. Despite widespread knowledge of current declines in wildlife species in general, an ignorant and uncaring few continue to purposely run over amphibians and reptiles on roads. One study that was carried out in southwestern Ontario found that almost 4 per cent of drivers will swerve to intentionally hit a turtle or snake on the road.

Further Reading

Ashley, E. P., A. Kosloski and S. A. Petrie. 2007. Incidence of intentional vehicle-reptile collisions. Human Dimensions of Wildlife 12:137–143.