FaunaClassifieds - View Single Post - Researchers release endangered snakes in Louisiana forest
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Old 05-04-2021, 08:14 AM   #4
Socratic Monologue
Originally Posted by JimM View Post
So what happened to that original population ? Since it's in a National Forest it couldn't have been development, new highways, and please no b/s about over collection for the pet trade.

Was it just poor land management by the forestry department ; fire suppression , etc ?
You guessed it.

"Louisiana pine snakes appear to be affected by changes in the fire regime which has altered vegetation structure resulting in decreases in pocket gopher (Geomys breviceps) density. Decreases in gopher densities are further hypothesized to result in decrease or extirpation of pine snake populations."


I didn't dig too deeply into this, but it sounds as if part of the restocking plan is to introduce genetic diversity (the captive population was chosen from a few locales) into the wild populations that were fragmented beyond viability by the habitat changes. This paper talks a little bit about that, and scanning other studies (Google Scholar lists a handful) suggests it as well:


Presumably fire control strategies have changed lately, but I didn't look to confirm that in this specific case.