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The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy purchased 55 acres in Venango County Feb. 13 for the specific purpose of protecting the venomous massasauga rattlesnake, an endangered species in Pennsylvania.

Habitat for this diminutive but deadly rattlesnake has disappeared considerably over past decades. Little remains, which makes this purchase vital.

This acquisition is just the latest move in a long-term focus on this species. The goal is to protect and maintain the massasauga rattlesnake habitat before it is too late, or before it gets to the point where it would cost considerably more to recover a population in Pennsylvania.

The first major accomplishment was purchasing land that would become Jennings Nature Reserve, in Butler County. A relict prairie, which is massasauga rattlesnake habitat, is the focus of this state park land.

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