Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
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Lake Erie Watersnake Thrives after Delisting
Midwest Region, June 2, 2014
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A Lake Erie Watersnake slithers away from a pile of snakes that were marked and released as part of the annual
A Lake Erie Watersnake slithers away from a pile of snakes that were marked and released as part of the annual "Nerodio" round-up. - Photo Credit: Megan Seymour, USFWS

The Lake Erie Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon insularum) continues to thrive three years after being delisted under the Endangered Species Act due to recovery. The watersnake was the 23rd species to be delisted due to recovery and is an ESA success story, demonstrating how a combination of science, partnerships and public engagement can bring back a species on the brink.


Primary researches Dr. Richard King, Northern Illinois University, and Dr. Kristin Stanford, The Ohio State University, continue the annual capture/mark/release study each May, to date collecting more than 17,000 records of over 11,000 individual snakes. Survey results indicate that the overall population and island-specific subpopulations continue to meet their delisting goals, and that the population maintains its stable to increasing trajectory. Further, the non-native invasive round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) continues to comprise a significant portion of the watersnake's diet, providing an abundant food supply.

King and Stanford submitted the third post-delisting monitoring report detailing these findings to the Service's Ohio Ecological Services Field office in spring 2014. The report describes how the watersnake continues to meet the goals of the Service's Post-delisting Monitoring Plan, completed at the time of delisting.

Though the post-delisting montioring effort is well under way, there are still two more years to go until it is complete. The 2014 watersnake round-up, dubbed "Nerodio" (after the genus name), is already underway, and King and Stanford are currently bagging handfuls of watersnakes along the shore of the Lake Erie islands. The snakes will be PIT tagged and released at their point of capture, and, we hope, found again next year.

Contact Info: Megan Seymour, (614) 416-8993 x 16, megan_seymour@fws.gov
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