The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public input on the creation of a plan to bring about the recovery of the Lake Erie water snake, a federally listed threatened species. The only place in the world this unique snake occurs is on the islands and in the waters of the western Lake Erie basin.
The Service is in the early stages of preparing a recovery plan for the Lake Erie water snake. The Endangered Species Act requires that a recovery plan be developed and implemented for most species listed as endangered or threatened. The plan will outline, justify, and schedule the research and management actions necessary to recover the snake. Recovery is achieved once the decline of the species has been arrested or reversed, and threats to its survival have been neutralized, so that its long-term survival in nature is ensured. If successfully undertaken, the actions listed in the recovery plan will eventually lead to the snake's removal from the list of threatened species.
Specifically, the recovery plan must address four items: site specific management actions necessary to conserve and recover the species; an estimated time-frame for recovery; an estimated cost of the complete recovery of the species; and precise, measurable criteria or research needs that will allow the Service and others to objectively determine when recovery has been achieved. Once completed, this plan will guide the actions of all federal and state agencies whose actions affect the conservation of the Lake Erie water snake.
It is important to the Service to obtain suggestions from the public on actions and ideas to help recover the Lake Erie water snake. The Service will be accepting written public comments on the proposal to create a recovery plan until February 10, 2003. Comments can be submitted by mail to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 6950 Americana Pkwy., Suite H, Reynoldsburg, OH 43068-4127, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org Following the completion of the draft recovery plan, public comments will again be sought before finalizing the plan.
The non-poisonous Lake Erie water snake was listed as a threatened species in August of 1999 because its populations have experienced major declines during the past 150 years. Most of the population decline can be attributed to habitat loss, such as development of the snake's shoreline habitat with marinas and houses. In the past, snake populations were also reduced by human persecution.
The Lake Erie water snake is a uniform gray to brown color, and some may have dark bands or blotches. Mature snakes can range from 1 to 5 feet in length. The largest populations of the water snake occur on North, Middle, and South Bass Islands and Kelleys Island in the U.S., and Pelee Island in Canada. The snakes spend the summer along the rocky shorelines of the islands and forage for fish in the lake. During the winter, LEWS hibernate underground.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95 million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses nearly 540 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 70 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
For further information about programs and activities of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Great Lakes-Big Rivers Region, visit our website at http://midwest.fws.gov
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