Great Lakes Endangered Species Doing Well, Including a Record-Breaking Snake

photo fox snake eggs record
Radiograph showing eggs in line and implanted radio transmitter. – Photo Credit: Kile Kucher

As heard Friday, May 25, 2012, on Q-90.1 FM, Delta College, Friday Edition, Environment Report …

Plovers a Plenty

There’s some good news when it comes to endangered species in the Great Lakes region.

According to new analysis from the Center for Biological Diversity, 90 percent of endangered species are on track to meet recovery goals set by federal scientists.

A total of 110 species were part of the research, and those in recovery include the piping plover, Kirtland’s warbler, Lake Erie water snake, and gray wolves.

The center, a nonprofit headquartered in Arizona, looked at population trends of plants and animals protected by the Endangered Species Act.

The analysis found many species on a path toward recovery, and some that are exceeding expectations.

On average, species have been protected for 32 years and have a typical expected recovery period of 46 years, according to the report.

In the Great Lakes region, the piping plover is a shorebird that was listed as endangered in 1985. At the time, only 19 nesting pairs remained in Michigan.

Most recently, MIchigan has maintained 50 percent of its 100-pair breeding goal for four years in a row.

Like other species, the plover recovery was due to management programs and other measures undertaken as part of the Endangered Species Act.

Eggs a Plenty

In other animal news, an eastern fox snake at the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in Saginaw County has broken a record.

Refuge manager Steven Kahl says a recent article published in a scientific journal describes a new documented record for an eastern fox snake egg clutch size.

A radiograph of one of the refuge’s female snakes showed she was carrying 34 eggs.

That’s beyond the previous known record of 29 eggs.

And the 34 eggs is more than twice the mean clutch size of about 14 eggs for an eastern fox snake.

This particular snake also was 5 feet 9 inches long, just an inch under the longest-measured eastern fox snake.

The Shiawassee Refuge is one of only three in the nation in which the fox snake is known to live.

Refuge officials are working with Central Michigan University researchers to conduct a study of the eastern fox snake.

The species is listed as threatened in Michigan. Its global range is confined to the coastal plains of Lakes Huron, Erie and Ontario.


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