Nebraska Game and Parks Commission


Date of this Version



Western Massasauga (Sistrurus tergeminus) A Species Conservation Assessment for The Nebraska Natural Legacy Project. Prepared by Melissa J. Panella and Brent D. Johnson, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Wildlife Division, June 2014


The primary goal in development of at-risk species conservation assessments is to compile biological and ecological information that may assist conservation practitioners in making decisions regarding the conservation of species of interest. The Nebraska Natural Legacy Project recognizes the Western Massasauga (Sistrurus tergeminus) as a Tier I at-risk species. Provided are some general management recommendations regarding Western Massasaugas. Conservation practitioners will need to use professional judgment to make specific management decisions based on objectives, location, and a multitude of variables. This resource was designed to share available knowledge of this at-risk species that will aid in the decision-making process or in identifying research needs to benefit the species. Species conservation assessments will need to be updated as relevant scientific information becomes available and/or conditions change. Though the Nebraska Natural Legacy Project focuses efforts in the state’s Biologically Unique Landscapes, it is recommended that whenever possible, practitioners make considerations for a species throughout its range in order to increase the outcome of successful conservation efforts. And in the case of conservation for massasaugas, it is particularly necessary to take into account the seasonal needs of the species and conserve both wintering and summer foraging habitat.

Criteria for selection as Tier I State listed, G3T3

Trends since 2005 in NE Stable

Range in NE Very southeast portion of state

Habitat Wet mesic tallgrass prairie, wet meadow/marsh/wet prairie, lower-middle tallgrass prairie, cordgrass wet prairie, crayfish burrows

Threats Loss/degradation of tallgrass prairie habitat, woody invasion, tilling for agriculture, prescribed fires, haying, vehicle mortality, persecution by humans

Climate Change Vulnerability Index: Highly Vulnerable (NatureServe 2013)

Research/Inventory Determine size/extent of Colfax County population; conduct surveys to assess distribution and abundance; conduct population monitoring and population viability assessment

Landscapes Lower Platte River, Sandstone Prairies, Southeast Prairies