Sample Issue Paper

251 FW 1
Originating Office
Division of Budget and Performance

Listing the Timber Rattlesnake in CITES Appendix II

Issue: Why should the timber rattlesnake be listed in Appendix II of CITES?

Response/Service Position:

  • Listing is necessary for more effective monitoring of trade in this species and to prohibit trade that may be detrimental to the species' survival. The International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and several States also support listing.
  • Listing would allow the Service to collect information on the origin of specimens presented for export and ensure compliance with State laws.
  • Listing would still allow commercial trade in the species and provide the Service with a mechanism to monitor and regulate exports and develop information on trade levels for the species.


  • The timber rattlesnake is endemic to North America, including 27 States; it has been extirpated from Canada, Maine, and Rhode Island, and has declined significantly in 20 other States.
  • The species' decline is largely attributable to habitat loss. However, collection of animals from the wild may be more significant that habitat loss in some areas, particularly Pennsylvania and the Northeast.
  • The Service currently cannot prohibit exports of this species, even in cases that may be detrimental to the survival of the species.
  • Protection varies at the State level from little or no protection to complete prohibition of collection and sale. States that allow commercial trade in the species do not monitor their populations. Only Florida compiles sale and trade data; however, trade levels are substantially underreported.

Contact: Marshall Jones, Assistant Director - International Affairs (202) 208-6393 (2/18/98)