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Promoting Coexistence: Construction Workers' Role in Rattlesnake Conservation

JACKSONVILLE, FL (May 24, 2024) - Although it's on our minds year-round, National Construction Safety Week earlier this month presented an opportune moment to reflect not only on the safety of those who build our communities but also on the conservation of the ecosystems we rely on. In many outdoor worksites, the presence of venomous species like rattlesnakes underscores the intricate relationship between human activities and wildlife conservation. The Center for Disease Control and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recognize snakebite as a neglected workplace hazard for outdoor workers and encourage employers in high-risk industries to provide snake safety training for their employees. The Rattlesnake Conservancy's venomous snake safety courses offer a unique avenue to promote coexistence while safeguarding both workers and snakes.

Venomous snakes of the US include many species of rattlesnake as well as copperheads, cottonmouths, and coral snakes. These snakes are not only iconic symbols of the American wilderness, but also crucial components of their ecosystems. As predators, they help regulate prey populations, maintain biodiversity, and contribute to ecosystem health. They are in turn prey for other predators that rely on them as food items, including birds of prey, foxes and bobcats, and other species of snakes. However, rapid urbanization and industrial development have fragmented their habitats and increased the likelihood of human-snake interactions, often resulting in negative outcomes for both parties.

The Rattlesnake Conservancy's venomous snake safety courses provide a sustainable model for human-snake conflict mitigation by creating a culture of safety and rattlesnake conservation. Educating construction workers on snake identification, behavior, and safe handling techniques empowers individuals to navigate outdoor environments safely and with confidence. Understanding the ecological significance of venomous snakes fosters a deeper appreciation for their role in nature, leading to more peaceful interactions between humans and wildlife.

Moreover, promoting coexistence through education and training aligns with broader conservation goals. By instilling a culture of respect and stewardship for venomous snakes, construction workers become champions for their conservation, advocating for habitat protection and mitigating human-wildlife conflicts. We see a ripple effect, where students of the class go on to share what they learn with people in their lives, resulting in a greater network of snake conservation advocates. In turn, this contributes to the preservation of biodiversity and the restoration of ecosystems, benefiting not only rattlesnakes but also countless other species that rely on snakes and share their habitats.

As we commemorate Construction Safety Week, let's recognize the vital role that construction workers play not only in building infrastructure but also the catalyst they can be in fostering coexistence with wildlife. Through collaboration with organizations like The Rattlesnake Conservancy and a commitment to education and conservation, we can create a future where humans and rattlesnakes thrive together.

The Rattlesnake Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to advancing the protection of rattlesnakes and their habitats through research and education. To learn more, visit their website at or contact them at


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