WASHINGTON (CN) – The number of Concho water snakes in central Texas has continued to grow despite several years of severe drought, leading the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the species from the federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.
When the species was listed in 1986, its numbers were in decline, a trend the agency believed was due to dams blocking the Colorado River.
A recovery plan implemented by the agency, the state of Texas and the Colorado River Municipal Water District required changes in the release of water from the Freese and other dams along the Colorado river to provide more water flow for the snake to travel, improving breeding opportunities and increasing genetic diversity.
The agency said data collected since the snake’s initial listing indicate that it is hardier than previously thought and that it is able to adapt to changing environmental conditions, such as drought and relative isolation between breeding populations.
As a result of its delisting, the Concho water snake also will lose its federally designated critical habitat, which required that all activities in the area subject to federal funding had to be reviewed by the agency to be sure they had no negative impact on the species.
The Concho water snake will officially be removed from the endangered species list on Nov. 28.
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