From: Center for Biological Diversity
Published March 11, 2015 08:51 AM

Feds Propose to Protect 330,000 Acres for Black Pine Snakes

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed to protect 338,100 acres of critical habitat in Mississippi and Alabama for black pine snakes, whose southeastern, longleaf pine forests have been reduced to less than 5 percent of their historic extent. The snake depends on these forests, which are being lost to agriculture and pine plantations, fire suppression and urbanization. Black pine snakes were proposed for Endangered Species Act protection last fall as the result of a settlement agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity that speeds protection decisions for 757 imperiled species around the country.

“Destruction of the South’s longleaf pine forests is driving native wildlife toward extinction,” said the Center’s Collette Adkins, an attorney and biologist focused on the protection of rare reptiles and amphibians. “Habitat protections for this beautiful snake will safeguard its future, along with the future of the South’s last longleaf pine forests.”

In the range of the black pine snake, longleaf pine is now largely confined to isolated patches on private land and the DeSoto National Forest in Mississippi. Habitat has been eliminated and degraded through land-use conversions, primarily for urban development, agriculture and pine plantations. Most of the remaining patches of longleaf pine on private land are fragmented, degraded, second-growth forests.

“Designation of critical habitat is absolutely necessary for the survival of the black pine snake,” said Adkins. “Like the red cockaded woodpecker, gopher tortoise and dozens of other wildlife species in the Southeast, the black pine snake depends on longleaf pine forests. The South is losing its natural heritage through the destruction of this critically endangered ecosystem.”

Continue reading at Center for Biological Diversity.

Snake image via Shutterstock.

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