[Federal Register: September 25, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 186)]
[Page 55411]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Approved Recovery Plan for the Lake Erie Water Snake (Nerodia 
sipedon insularum)

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of document availability.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announces the 
availability of the approved recovery plan for the Lake Erie water 
snake (Nerodia sipedon insularum). This species is federally listed as 
threatened under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Act), as amended 
(16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), on the offshore islands and in the waters of 
the western Lake Erie basin of Ohio. Actions needed for recovery of the 
Lake Erie water snake include monitoring the population, protecting and 
managing habitat on both public and private land, administering public 
outreach to address intentional and accidental human-induced mortality, 
and collecting important ecological data on the snake and its habitat.

ADDRESSES: This recovery plan is available from the following 

1. Fish and Wildlife Reference Service, 5430 Grosvenor Lane, Suite 110, 
Bethesda, Maryland 20814 (the fee for the plan varies depending on the 
number of pages).
2. Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Reynoldsburg 
Ecological Services Field Office, 6950 Americana Parkway, Suite H, 
Reynoldsburg, Ohio 43068-4127.
3. The World Wide Web at: http://endangered.fws.gov/recovery/index.html#plans

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Megan Seymour, Reynoldsburg 
Ecological Services Field Office, (see ADDRESSES section No. 2 above), 
telephone (614) 469-6923 ext.16. The Fish and Wildlife Reference 
Service may be reached at (301) 492-6403 or (800) 582-3421. TTY users 
may contact Ms. Seymour and the Fish and Wildlife Reference Service 
through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.



    Recovery of endangered or threatened animals or plants is a primary 
goal of the Service's endangered species program. A species is 
considered recovered when threats to the species are removed so that 
populations of the species are self-sustaining. Recovery plans describe 
actions considered necessary for the conservation of the species, 
establish criteria for delisting species, and provide estimates of the 
time and cost for implementing the measures needed for recovery.
    The Act requires the development of recovery plans for listed 
species unless such a plan would not promote the conservation of a 
particular species. Section 4(f) of the Act, as amended in 1988, 
requires that public notice and the opportunity for public review and 
comment be provided during recovery plan development. Information 
presented during the comment period has been considered in the 
preparation of the approved recovery plan and is summarized in an 
appendix to the recovery plan. We will forward substantive comments 
regarding recovery plan implementation to appropriate Federal agencies 
and other entities so that they can take these comments into account 
during the course of implementing recovery actions.
    Lake Erie water snakes on the offshore islands and surrounding 
waters of Lake Erie were listed as threatened on August 30, 1999, under 
the Act. Water snakes found on the near-shore Ohio islands and Ohio 
mainland are not protected by the threatened designation due to the 
likelihood that these snakes represent intergrades between the Lake 
Erie water snake and northern water snake. The Lake Erie water snake 
spends summers basking on the rocky shorelines of the limestone and 
dolomite islands in the western Lake Erie basin. Hibernation habitat 
for the snake is comprised of areas inland from the shore that 
typically have soil and rock substrates and consist of natural openings 
or fissures. Human-made structures such as crib docks and erosion 
control protection can provide suitable summer habitat, whereas old 
building foundations and drainage tiles may provide suitable 
hibernation habitat. The primary threats to the snake include both 
accidental and intentional human-induced mortality and loss of suitable 
summer and hibernation habitat through development. There are nine U.S. 
islands and seven Canadian islands that currently provide year-round 
habitat for the snake, whereas two U.S. islands only provide summer 
habitat. The Lake Erie water snake has been extirpated from one U.S. 
island and two Canadian islands.
    Recovery will be achieved and the species removed from the list of 
Threatened and Endangered Wildlife (50 CFR part 17) when the following 
criteria are met: (1) A minimum of 5,555 adult snakes exist on 9 U. S. 
islands combined for 6 or more consecutive years, including at least 
900 snakes on Kelleys Island, 850 snakes on South Bass Island, 620 
snakes on Middle Bass Island, and 410 snakes on North Bass Island, with 
the remaining snakes occurring on any of the islands; (2) a total of 
7.4 km of shoreline habitat and 51 hectares of hibernation habitat 
distributed proportionately among the 4 largest U. S. islands are 
protected in perpetuity by a written agreement approved by the Service; 
and (3) an objective analysis of public attitude indicates that human 
persecution is no longer a threat to the continued existence of the 
snake, and accidental human-induced mortality no longer poses a 
significant threat to the population.

    Authority: The authority for this action is section 4(f) of the 
Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1533(f).

    Dated: August 28, 2003.
Charles M. Wooley,
Assistant Regional Director, Ecological Services, Region 3, Fort 
Snelling, Minnesota.
[FR Doc. 03-24281 Filed 9-24-03; 8:45 am]