WASHINGTON (CN) – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to remove the Lake Erie Watersnake from the list of species protected by the Endangered Species Act, calling the species “recovered.”
The Lake Erie watersnake, which lives on the U.S. offshore islands of western Lake Erie, was listed as a threatened species in 1999.
In 2005, the agency released the final recovery plan for the snake outlining the conditions which would indicate full recovery of the species, including attainment of an estimated population size of 5,555 or more adult snakes on the U.S. islands for six or more consecutive years, creation and maintenance of sufficient summer and hibernation habitat protected in perpetuity, and change of public perception of the snake with particular emphasis on the fact that the snakes are not venomous.
The agency has determined that these conditions have been met and that continued listing of the species is no longer necessary. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Web site lists the 2008 population estimate of the Lake Erie watersnake at 12,000 adults. Public information will be accepted on the agency’s proposal until Aug. 2.
The agency conducts five year status reviews on all species designated for protection under the act, to monitor their recovery.