Correlates of snake entanglement in erosion control blankets
In road construction projects across the United States, erosion control methods (e.g., erosion control blankets [ECBs]), are mandated to stimulate seedbed regeneration and prevent soil loss. Previous reports have suggested that snakes are vulnerable to entanglement in ECBs. We conducted a literature review, field surveys, and an entanglement experiment to examine what factors increase a snake’s risk of ECB entanglement. Our literature review produced reports of 175 reptiles entangled in mesh products, 89.1% of which were snakes, with 43.6% of snake entanglements occurring in erosion control products. During our field surveys, we found 10 entangled snakes (n = 2 alive; n = 8 dead). From our experiment, we found that ECBs that contain fixed‐intersection, small‐diameter mesh consisting of polypropylene were significantly more likely to entangle snakes compared with ECBs with larger diameter polypropylene mesh or ECBs that have woven mesh made of natural fibers. Snake body size was also associated with entanglement; for every 1‐mm increase in body circumference, the probability of entanglement increased 4%. These results can help construct a predictive framework to determine those species and individuals that are most vulnerable to entanglement.