Target: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Regional Director, Noreen Walsh
Goal: Commend addition legal protections for two threatened snake species
Two types of snakes have recently been granted threatened-species status by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The agency has finally recognized the northern Mexican garter snake and the narrow-headed garter snakes of Arizona, New Mexico, and Northern Mexico as in danger of extinction. The threatened status affords these two snake species certain essential legal protections including laws against killing or collecting the snakes. Arizona law had already banned the collection of these species, but under the threatened species protection, any activity involving the snakes will now need to be properly reviewed beforehand by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The two types of snakes are non-venomous and live in aquatic habitats such as rivers. The species has declined as a result of loss of habitat and competition with other native species. Protection of the snakes did not reach the endangered status, but the threatened designation will provide them suitable protections for the time being.
In the meantime, regulations will be put into place as conservationists continue to fight for the endangered classification. Collette Adkins Giese, reptile and amphibian staff attorney for the Center of Biological Diversity, has stated that, “Protecting these snakes under the Endangered Species Act really is important to getting them on the path back to recovery.” One challenge to securing an endangered status for the snakes is a lack of information about their exact numbers, due to their wide habitat range. The range housing these snakes includes tribal land as well as parts of Mexico, where it can be more complicated to gather information for U.S. purposes.
Thank the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for reclassifying these two snake species, increasing their legal protections to ensure that their population will grow and thrive.
Dear Director Walsh,
Thank you for designating the northern Mexican and narrow-headed garter snakes of Arizona, New Mexico, and Northern Mexico threatened species. This step will undoubtedly create an environment more conducive to the continuation of the species. Hopefully this status will also bring awareness to any further action needed to protect their declining populations, including the possibility of declaring them endangered.
Although some protections for the snakes already existed in the state of Arizona, where many of the snakes reside, the new legal protections offered by their new classification will further increase awareness of the species’ dire situation.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Steve Jurvetson via flickr