Unwanted residential wildlife: Evaluating social-ecological patterns for snake removals

Heather L. Bateman, Jeffrey A. Brown, Kelli L. Larson, Riley Andrade, Bryan Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Snakes are globally threatened due to anthropogenic pressures. Conflicts between snakes and people occur when residents encounter snakes in their home environments. In collaboration with a local business that provides snake removal services, we examined records from over 2000 snake removals in Phoenix metropolitan area, Arizona, United States between 2018 and 2019. We examined removal locations in relation to neighborhood-level socioeconomic attributes from the American Community Survey and individual demographics from a social survey of 494 respondents. Over 68% of removals were of the venomous Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox), which is the most common species in the area observed in community-sourced data and publications. Removals occurred throughout the year except winter and peaked during summer rainy season. Snakes were frequently removed from neighborhoods with wealthier and more highly educated residents, greater proportion of Latinx residents, and recently constructed homes. Individual perceptions of snakes as problematic were not related to the number of snakes removed. This research is the first to analyze snake removals in a social-ecological context and underscores the conservation benefits of researchers partnering with a local business to gain spatial and temporal information on an elusive taxon. Similar collaborations could lead to direct conservation action for snakes by researchers learning from community members in cities and by groups willing to use results from research partnerships to inform their practices. Understanding how to maintain biodiversity in urbanizing arid regions could protect snakes if relocating snakes away from areas of high human density translates into fewer snakes killed by people annually.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere01601
JournalGlobal Ecology and Conservation
Volume27
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Keywords

  • Crotalid rattlesnake
  • Human-wildlife interactions
  • Nuisance wildlife
  • Risk perceptions
  • Snake conservation
  • Urban ecology
  • Wildlife relocation
  • iNaturalist

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

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