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Louisiana pine snake (Pituophis ruthveni); photograph courtesy of Dan Saenz, U.S. Forest Service, Southern Research Station, Nacogdoches, TX.













Louisiana Pine Snake Candidate Conservation Agreement Heralds Hope to Protect Rare Reptile


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 2, 2004

Contact:
USFWS Southeast Region, Tom MacKenzie 404-679-7291; Troy Mallach 337-291-3123
USFWS Southwest Region, Christopher Botnick 505-248-6653; Jeff Reid 936-639-8546
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Ricky Maxey 936-564-0234; Tom Harvey 512-389-4453
National Forests and Grasslands in Texas, Eddie Taylor 936-639-8565; Gay Ippolito 936-639-8569
La. Dept of Wildlife & Fisheries, Gary Lester 225-765-2820; Thomas Gresham 225-765-2923
Ft. Polk, La., Stephanie Stephens 337-531-6088; Dan Nance 337-531-7203
U.S. Forest Svc., Kisatchie Natl. Forest, La. Steve Shively 318-793-9427; Jim Caldwell 318-473-7168
U.S. Forest Svc., Southern Research Station, Tx., Craig Rudolph 936-569-7981
Audubon Zoo New Orleans, Sarah Burnette 504-212-5366


Eight state and federal partners gathered at a workshop held at the New Orleans Audubon Zoo today to formally announce a landmark agreement and efforts to define future actions to help protect the Louisiana pine snake -- a rare reptile in Texas and Louisiana. The partners signed the Candidate Conservation Agreement in December 2003 to identify and establish management for the Louisiana pine snake on federal lands in Texas and Louisiana.

The non-venomous Louisiana pine snake, a candidate for federal listing under the Endangered Species Act, historically ranged throughout the longleaf pine ecosystem of western Louisiana and east-central Texas.

The snake is also listed as threatened by the State of Texas and as a species of conservation concern by the State of Louisiana. It is currently known to survive in only a few locations in each state and may well be one of the rarest snakes in the United States. This agreement is one of 115 Candidate Conservation Agreements in the United States, and covers all known occurrences on federal lands.

The signatories to the agreement include: Texas National Forests, the U.S. Forest Service’s Southern Research Station, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Kisatchie National Forest, Fort Polk Military Installation, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southeast and Southwest Regions.

The voluntary agreement provides a means for all agencies to work together on projects to avoid and minimize impacts to the snake. The agreement also sets up a mechanism to exchange information on successful management practices and coordinate research efforts.

To help the Louisiana pine snake survive, agencies need to regularly burn the forest understory with controlled fires in appropriate conditions. This also makes for a healthier, safer forest and benefits the entire ecosystem, not to mention a more natural visiting experience when the forest understory is regenerated.


QUOTES FROM PARTNERS:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region

“This broad partnership provides the framework to better identify the management needs and discuss the latest research for this unique reptile,” said Sam D. Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director. “It is an ideal example of dealing with a complex issue by developing a partnership of forward-looking people to find the right tools to help conserve a rare species.”

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest Region

“Broad-based partnerships such as this represent an excellent way to protect at-risk species in America,” said Dale Hall, Southwest Regional Director. “By protecting candidate species on federal lands, we are helping the survival of the species.”
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
"The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Natural Heritage Section has been active with our state and federal partners throughout the entire process of developing this agreement,” said Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Dwight Landreneau. “We are eager to be involved in this and any arrangement that fosters research and understanding of Louisiana's native flora and fauna."

Fort Polk Military Installation

“Fort Polk is proud to be a partner in the Candidate Conservation Agreement,” said Stephanie Stephens, wildlife biologist with the Fort Polk Military Installation. “Since 1995, Fort Polk has supported Louisiana pine snake conservation through research, habitat management, and education. Conservation efforts at Fort Polk are founded on the principles of Win-Win Ecology of providing quality habitat that supports both biodiversity and mission readiness.”

U.S. Forest Service National Forests and Grasslands in Texas

"We are pleased to be a partner in this Louisiana pine snake cooperative agreement,” said Fred Salinas, Supervisor, National Forests and Grasslands in Texas. “The Louisiana pine snake is a key indicator in the longleaf pine habitats that we manage, and we plan to implement a management strategy for the snake that will include frequent prescribed burning. This will be beneficial for the snake and many other fire-dependent species and will promote the health of the fire-maintained pine ecosystem.”

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

“Conservation actions taken by the cooperators through this agreement will assure long-term survival of the Louisiana pine snake and a number of additional rare animal and plant species of the upland pine ecosystem of East Texas,” said Rickey Maxey, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologist in Nacogdoches. “We are a firmly committed partner, and look forward to a positive working relationship with all the other partners in this agreement.”
Maxey said Texas Parks and Wildlife Department intends to manage its relevant wildlife management areas in East Texas for the pine snake through controlled burning and other habitat improvement tactics, as well as encourage private landowners and others to do the same through its grants programs and free technical guidance to landowners.

U. S. Forest Service, Southern Research Station

“The U. S. Forest Service, Southern Research Station is pleased to play a role in helping to manage public lands for the benefit of the Louisiana pine snake, and the many additional species of plants and animals dependent on fire-maintained pine ecosystems in the southeastern United States,” said D. Craig Rudolph. Research Ecologist U. S. Forest Service Southern Research Station. “Longleaf pine ecosystems, in particular, are among the most highly threatened in North America and this agreement should help maintain the natural biodiversity dependent on well-managed longleaf pine habitats.”

 

Pine Snake photos -- click on photo for 300 dpi

Pine Snake Agreement - html -- word doc

Pine Snake Fact Sheet -- pdf -- html



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