Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today announced that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the Service) removed the Lake Erie watersnake, a harmless species found on offshore islands in western Lake Erie in Ohio and Ontario, from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.
The snake becomes the 23rd species to be delisted due to recovery.
Under the Endangered Species Act, the Service has worked to successfully stabilize our nation’s most imperiled species in part by fostering partnerships, employing scientific excellence, and developing a workforce of conservation leaders who promote conservation programs that help species recovery.
“Today the Lake Erie watersnake joins species such as the bald eagle, the American alligator, and the peregrine falcon that have rebounded from the threat of extinction and no longer require the protection of the Endangered Species Act,” Salazar said.
“These species — and the hundreds of others whose extinction has been prevented by the Act — are living testimonies to its ability to bring species back from the brink by protecting them and conserving and restoring their habitat.”
The Service listed the Lake Erie watersnake as a threatened species in 1999. Threats to the species included intentional killing and loss of its shoreline habitat on Lake Erie to development.
In 2003, the Service finalized a recovery plan that called for protecting habitat and providing outreach to reduce threats to the species.
In cooperation with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife (ODNR) and other partners, biologists worked to minimize and reduce the threats to the snake by sustaining and protecting summer and hibernation habitat and ensuring the permanent protection of shoreline habitat.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn