Main content area

Rattlesnake Nuisance Removals and Urban Expansion in Phoenix, Arizona

Pitts, Steven L., Hughes, Bryan D., Mali, Ivana
Western North American naturalist 2017 v.77 no.3 pp. 309-316
Viperidae, land cover, landowners, professionals, shrublands, snakes, urban areas, urbanization, wildlife, Arizona
Urbanization can have significant consequences on local wildlife. While some species can thrive in urban environments, others are often seen as nuisance animals and therefore are either killed by landowners or removed by professionals. Snakes, especially rattlesnakes, represent one such taxon. Here, we analyzed rattlesnake removal data from the city of Phoenix, Arizona, USA, to determine whether the removal data directly correlates with urban expansion. Between 2011 and 2014, over 500 rattlesnakes and over 300 non-rattlesnakes were removed by professionals, with significant removal clusters in the northern Phoenix metropolis. Land cover change analyses showed that all removal sites experienced dramatic changes in the past decade. There was a significant increase in urban land cover and significant decrease in shrub land cover, suggesting a negative impact of urbanization on local snakes.