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Rattlesnake Mitigation

The City of Lethbridge operates a rattlesnake mitigation program that aims to reduce the number of rattlesnake encounters with people and pets. Residents and visitors may encounter prairie rattlesnakes when exploring our coulees or select urban areas. Rattlesnakes are venomous and should be avoided.

Each year between April and December, we work with our partners to relocate rattlesnakes off of public property where there may be a concern for public safety. We relocate the snakes from an area of potential conflict with people and pets to their permanent natural habitat (their den site, wintering or birthing grounds). This process is strictly regulated by Alberta Fish and Wildlife and the City has a research permit to conduct its activities.

View Living with Rattlesnakes in Lethbridge for more information on the program and on the rattlesnake and bull snake species.

Report a rattlesnake sighting

To report a rattlesnake sighting or to learn more information about rattlesnakes from local experts, please contact the Helen Schuler Nature Centre by calling 403-320-3064.

Request a rattlesnake relocation

To have one or more rattlesnakes removed from an urban or recreational area in Lethbridge between April and December, please call 403-332-6806.

Do not own, harass or kill rattlesnakes

The Government of Alberta’s Wildlife Act prohibits anyone from owning or harassing wildlife, including rattlesnakes and bull snakes, or their parts. We provide the mitigation program to encourage residents to call for assistance, instead of trying to remove snakes themselves.

It is also illegal to kill rattlesnakes or damage denning areas. There are significant charges and fines for killing a rattlesnake in Alberta.

Frequently asked questions

View some frequently asked questions about rattlesnakes in Lethbridge:

Prairie rattlesnakes are common in southeastern Alberta and parts of Saskatchewan. Here in Lethbridge, they reach the northwestern limit of their range. Most rattlesnake sightings are in West Lethbridge, although snakes have been seen in the coulee areas on the east side of Oldman River.

Rattlesnakes spend much of their time on dry coulee slopes but will wander into cottonwood forests and wetlands to find food. The benchland, or top of coulees where housing subdivisions now sit, were once critical summer habitats for the snakes. Rattlesnakes also enjoy sunning themselves on paved paths, so you may see them on pathways on RiverStone and other West Lethbridge neighbourhoods.

The most common areas for sightings are:

  • Bridge Drive
  • Paradise Canyon community and the surrounding area
  • Popson Park and Cottonwood Park nature reserve
  • RiverStone community
  • SunRidge community

Rattlesnakes are masters of camouflage. It is very hard to see them. Make sure you stay alert and aware of your surroundings when hiking in the coulees, especially when you are in the natural areas of West Lethbridge. We recommend staying on established trails.

You may first hear a rattlesnake before you see it through the rasp of its rattle. This is the snake’s way of getting your attention and warning you of its presence. Rattlesnakes may not always alert people of their presence. We encourage you to always be aware when moving in and around the coulees.

Do not step or jump over large rocks and logs without first checking to see what is on the other side. Rattlesnakes can feel the vibration of your footsteps through the ground.

Be sure to:

  • Keep your dog on a leash. A snake will likely defend itself by striking a dog that ignores its warning signs.
  • Always wear pants and sturdy footwear when hiking in the coulees.
  • Always pay attention to the ground in front of your feet. Be snake aware.

If you encounter a rattlesnake, back away slowly and remain calm. Give the snake space. Never run, as there may be more than one in your immediate area.

Rattlesnakes are not aggressive, and if given a choice, will retreat rather than strike. However, if they are surprised, stepped on or cornered, they can strike up to a distance of half their length.

It is estimated that up to 20% of their bites are dry, with no venom injected. Prairie rattlesnake venom is not particularly lethal, and no one has died from a prairie rattlesnake bite in Alberta. Dogs are often bitten by rattlesnakes and usually recover after several days of treatment with steroids and antibiotics.

Remain calm and get to the hospital as soon as possible. Do not try to suck or cut the venom out, as it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. Early treatment of rattlesnake bites will normally result in a complete recovery.

Contact a veterinarian as soon as possible if your pet has been bitten.

If you would like to snake-proof your yard, garden or play area, you can erect snake barrier fencing. Learn how to set up a snake fence with rattlesnake consultant Ryan Heavyhead.

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