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Lake Erie Watersnake

Federal Register Final Rule: Removal of the Lake Erie Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon insularum) From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife

 

Below are the Summary and Background Sections of the Final Rule. Download the complete 23-page Federal Register Final Rule to Delist the Lake Erie Watersnake.

 

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Fish and Wildlife Service
50 CFR Part 17

 

[Docket No. FWS–R3–ES–2010–0039; 92220–1113–000; ABC Code: C6]
RIN 1018–AW62

 

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Removal of the Lake Erie Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon
insularum) From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife

 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

 

ACTION: Final rule; notice of availability of final post-delisting monitoring plan.

 

SUMMARY: Under the authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), we, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), are removing the Lake Erie watersnake (Nerodia sipedon insularum) from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife due to recovery. This action is based on a review of the best available scientific and commercial data, which indicate that the subspecies is no longer endangered or threatened with extinction, or likely to become so within the foreseeable future.

 

DATES: This rule becomes effective September 15, 2011.

 

ADDRESSES: This final rule is available on the Internet at: http:// www.regulations.gov and http:// www.fws.gov/endangered. Supporting documentation used in preparing this final rule will be available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ohio Ecological Services Field Office, 4625 Morse Road, Suite 104, Columbus, Ohio 43230.

 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Mary Knapp, Field Office Supervisor, or Megan Seymour, Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ohio Ecological Services Field Office, 4625 Morse Road, Suite 104, Columbus, Ohio 43230 (telephone 614–416–8993). Individuals who are hearing-impaired or speech-impaired may call the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877–8337 for TTY assistance.

 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
Background

The Lake Erie watersnake is a subspecies of the Northern watersnake (N. sipedon sipedon) that occurs primarily on the offshore islands of western Lake Erie in Ohio and Ontario, Canada, but also on a small portion of the United States (U.S.) mainland on the Catawba and Marblehead peninsulas of Ottawa County, Ohio (Conant and Clay 1937, p. 2; King 1986, p. 760). Lake Erie watersnakes are uniformly gray or brown, and have either no banding pattern, or have blotches or banding that are either faded or reduced (Conant and Clay 1937, pp. 2–5; Camin and Ehrlich 1958, p. 504; King 1987, pp. 243–244). Female Lake Erie watersnakes grow up to 1.1 meters (m) (3.5 feet (ft)), long, and are larger than males (King 1986, p. 762). Newborn Lake Erie watersnakes are the size of a pencil, and are born during late summer or early fall (King 1986, p. 764).

 

Lake Erie watersnakes are distinct from Northern watersnakes in their reduced or absent banding patterns (Conant and Clay 1937, pp. 2–5; Camin and Ehrlich 1958, p. 504; King 1987, pp. 243–244), use of substrates dominated by limestone or dolomite (Conant and Clay 1937, p. 6; King 1986, p.760), diet composition (Hamilton 1951, pp. 64– 65), larger body size (King 1989, pp. 85– 86), lower growth rates (King 1986, p. 770), and shorter tails (King 1986, p. 768).

 

Lake Erie watersnake summer habitat is composed of rocky shorelines with limestone or dolomite shelves, ledges, or boulders for sunning and shelter. Shelter occurs in the form of loose rocks, piled rocks, or shelves and ledges with cracks, crevices, and nearby vegetation. Rip-rap erosion control, armor stone, and docks incorporating a stone crib structure often serve as summer habitat for the snake. Lake Erie watersnakes typically forage for fish and amphibians in Lake Erie, and research indicates that more than 90 percent of their current diet is composed of the nonnative, invasive fish round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) (King et al. 2006b, p. 110). Jones et al. (2009, p. 441) report that the mean foraging distance from shore is 85 m (279 ft) and the average water depth of the foraging locations is 3.32 m (10.9 ft). Data from 56 radio-tracked adult Lake Erie watersnakes indicate that during the summer, 75 percent of this population ranged within 13 m (42.7 ft) of the water’s edge (King 2003, p.4). King (2003, p. 4) identified that 75 percent of the 56 radio-tracked Lake Erie watersnakes used 437 m (1433 ft) of shoreline or less as a home range. In the winter, Lake Erie watersnakes hibernate below the frost level, in cracks or crevices in the bedrock, interstitial spaces of rocky substrates, tree roots, building foundations, and other similar natural and human-made structures. Seventy-five percent of 49 radio-tracked Lake Erie watersnakes hibernated within 69 m (226 ft) of the water’s edge (King 2003, p. 4). Individual snakes often demonstrated site fidelity, returning to the same shoreline area and the same or nearby hibernacula in successive years (King 2003, pp. 4, 11–17).

 

Additional information on the Lake Erie watersnake’s life history and biology can be found in the final listing rule (64 FR 47126; August 30, 1999) and the Lake Erie Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon insularum) Recovery Plan (Service 2003a, pp. 6–11).

 

Above are the Summary and Background Sections of the Final Rule. Download the complete 23-page Federal Register Final Rule to Delist the Lake Erie Watersnake.

 

 

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Last updated: July 16, 2014