Endangered Species
Ecological Services
November 17, 2010

Recovery Success Stories | Lake Erie Watersnake (06:21)

Host: Ann Haas with Megan Seymour

Lake Erie Watersnake (click to view larger)
Lake Erie watersnake
Photo credit: Kristin Stanford

Once Threatened, Now Recovered

The Lake Erie watersnake (Nerodia sipedon insularum), a harmless, nonvenomous reptile once threatened with extinction, has recovered so well that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed on June 1 to remove it from the threatened and endangered species list.

Lake Erie watersnakes live only on islands in western Lake Erie in Ohio and Ontario, Canada. In 1999, the species was listed as threatened due to killing by people who fear snakes and to the loss of shoreline habitat to development. Recovery initiatives have featured habitat conservation and outreach to residents and visitors about the animal's natural history.

The Lake Erie watersnake population grew to about 8,600 by 2008, exceeding the minimum population goal specified in its recovery plan. About 300 acres of inland habitat and 11 miles of shoreline have been protected for the snake since it was listed.

Partners in the recovery program have included the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Northern Illinois University, Lake Erie Islands Chapter of the Black Swamp Conservancy, Western Reserve Land Conservancy, Put-in-Bay Township Park District, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and Ohio State University (Stone Laboratory).

Hear more from Kristin Stanford, 2009 Recovery Champion.

Hear more from Richard King, Ph.D. and 2009 Recovery Champion.

Hear from Carolyn Caldwell of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife.

Hear from Lisa Brohl of the Black Swamp Conservancy in Ohio.

More information about the species: Click Here

Last updated: July 15, 2013