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Herps In The News Local or national articles where reptiles or amphibians have made it into the news media. Please cite sources.

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Old 05-03-2021, 11:49 AM   #1
bcr229
Researchers release endangered snakes in Louisiana forest

https://apnews.com/article/louisiana...d3d32802ab55c8

Researchers release endangered snakes in Louisiana forest

May 3, 2021 GMT

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Researchers with the Memphis Zoo have released 50 endangered Louisiana pine snakes into a national forest in an attempt to revive their population.

On April 22 — Earth Day — the Memphis Zoo’s research team and partners from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and zoos in Fort Worth, Texas, and Alexandria, Louisiana, released the young pine snakes into their natural habitat in Kisatchie National Forest.

The juvenile snakes were safely placed into tunnels where pocket gophers live in the Louisiana forest, the Memphis Zoo said. The snakes’ main prey is pocket gophers. Researchers hope the snakes will breed effectively, helping increase the species’ population in the wild.

The Louisiana pine snake is native to the longleaf pine forests of Louisiana and Texas. Since 2010, Memphis Zoo research director Steve Reichling has led captive breeding programs that involve artificial insemination as well as natural breeding, the Memphis Zoo said.
 
Old 05-03-2021, 06:53 PM   #2
JimM
I'm wondering how they decided on this release location and that it will sustain the new population of pine snakes ? I assume that this area had a known population in the past ?

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 ?
 
Old 05-04-2021, 06:27 AM   #3
Scottyboy
Oh but not to worry......They'll all be saved now since captive born animals can't be sold across state lines. (That is, unless you wait one eternity later for the permit.)
 
Old 05-04-2021, 08:14 AM   #4
Socratic Monologue
Quote:
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."

https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/537

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:

https://tpwd.texas.gov/business/gran...nce-report.pdf

Presumably fire control strategies have changed lately, but I didn't look to confirm that in this specific case.
 
Old 05-04-2021, 03:03 PM   #5
JimM
John ;

Thank you very much for these two papers ...
 
Old 05-04-2021, 04:46 PM   #6
Socratic Monologue
You're welcome.
 
Old 05-05-2021, 12:40 PM   #7
JimM
Wonder what penalties / fines / restrictions will be put on the Forestry Dept for driving two species of Pine Snake to near extinction ? And how about Fish and Wildlife who didn't know what these animals requirements were ?

But for 35+ years , hobbyists / breeders have produced these two pines snakes( LA and Black ) in numbers to where there would never be pressure on the wild population by anyone wanting to work with them and it's sure the way the majority of people would ever get to see one in the flesh ... the ones bred in collections.

But who got penalized .... the 'authorities' who caused most likely irreversible harm with extinction in the wild by their inept abilities to keep them alive and well in the wild by ruining their habitat with piss-poor land management or the people who bred them consistently for going on 40 years ?
 
Old 05-05-2021, 05:38 PM   #8
Socratic Monologue
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimM View Post
Wonder what penalties / fines / restrictions will be put on the Forestry Dept for driving two species of Pine Snake to near extinction ? And how about Fish and Wildlife who didn't know what these animals requirements were ?
I'm assuming (a) the fire suppression strategies were widely supported by people of all sorts of conservation beliefs, and (b) no one could have foreseen the chain of events that led to the situation currently, and if they had no one in power would have listened, and (c) yes, we need more federal dollars for basic research in all fields -- tell your elected officials that we need to spend much, much more on taking care of what we have and less (='none') on pillaging the environment to make the rich richer.

20/20 hindsight, and all that.
 

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