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There is No Snake in my Boot!
Earlier this month thanks to the efforts of the USDA Forest Service, U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and the Memphis Zoo officials were able to take seven Louisiana pine snakes, all six months old and about three feet long, into the Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana for immediate release.
The snakes hadn’t slithered into homes via the plumbing or weren’t hanging around residential backyards terrorizing small dogs to have earned a one-way ticket back to the forest. Officials are hoping reintroduction will help restore the population to its natural range in the center of The Bayou State. Last year officials released twenty snakes as part of the initiative which hatches and raises the snakes in captivity from wild-caught snakes.
The nonvenomous Louisiana pine snake, considered by herpetologists to be one of the rarest in the country, is declining because of changes to their habitat and access to prey. According to the ICUN Red List, which has the snake listed as “endangered”, silviculture or the maintenance of forests mostly to prevent fire has caused fragmentation of both the population of snakes and the gophers which it likes to eat. ICUN also cites the death of snakes on roads with moderate to high traffic has added to the problem. Commercial logging has played a role as well.
The snakes themselves aren’t making repopulation any easier either by only laying about three to five eggs in the wild and only one or two in captivity. Breeding in captivity makes snakes less genetically diverse as their wild kin and researchers know diversity is necessary for survival.
The snake is currently listed as threatened in Texas, part of its native range, and is only a “candidate” at this time for placement on the federal list.
The six snakes have passive integrated transponder implants so they can be tracked but Craig Rudolph a research ecologist at the Forest Service Southern Research Station says tracking ain’t easy.
“So far we’ve not had much success with the recorders, which are dug into the ground in four places on the release site,” says Rudolph. “We’ve recorded activity in the first weeks, but nothing later on. This is not unexpected, since these snakes have a large home range and probably leave the immediate area. We need to get good population estimates for the areas we’ve released in, but the only way to get data is by trapping, which is very time-consuming and expensive.”
The Louisiana pine snake isn’t the only snake that was in the news this month because of its tenuous population in the country. Reuters reported that population of the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, North America’s largest venomous snake, is dwindling. The rattlesnake is being monitored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and like the pine snake prefers to live in long leaf pine forests.
1944: Camano Class Light Cargo Ship was laid down for the US Army as FS-289 at Wheeler Shipbuilding in Whitestone, NY.
1955 - 1963: Used as a cargo supply ship for the Texas Towers, a network of advanced radar stations located off the Eastern Seaboard. In 1957, Capt. Sixto Mangual was commander of the AKL-17 and in 1961 it was rechristened the USNS New Bedford. The New Bedford, sailing out of State Pier, was keeping vigil when Texas Tower No. 4 callapsed off the New Jersey coast during a January 1961 nor'easter.
2006: Design of the Tesla Turbine began on June 11, 2006. The Sea Bird was sold by Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service for commercial service.