The Nature Conservancy announced today that it has released 12 Eastern indigo snakes (Drymarchon couperi) in northern Florida's Apalachicola Bluffs an
The Nature Conservancy announced today that it has released 12 Eastern indigo snakes (Drymarchon couperi) in northern Florida’s Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve (ABRP) in Bristol, in an effort to return the native reptile to the region that it has long since disappeared from. The conservancy, in conjunction with the the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens’ Orianne Center for Indigo Conservation (OCIC), the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Zoo Atlanta, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Welaka National Fish Hatchery, The Orianne Society, Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center, Southern Company through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), and the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida, has been releasing these apex predators into the region for the last five years, as part of a 10 year program to reintroduce the snake into its native habitat.
“Today’s snake release marks the five year milestone of the species recovery effort at The Nature Conservancy’s Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve and continues the longstanding collaborative effort among partners dedicated to securing a future for this beautiful and important animal in north Florida,” Steve Coates, director, stewardship and field programs for the The Nature Conservancy said in a statement released to the media.
“We continue to protect, manage and restore the species and landscapes that are critical to supporting nature across our state.”
In the last five years, the captive breeding and release efforts has led to the release of 81 Eastern indigo snakes in this protected habitat. Observations of previously released indigo snakes are encouraging, and the hope is to find evidence of breeding in the wild.
The eastern indigo snake is the longest native snake in the United States, sometimes reaching more than 8 feet in length. The snake is a federally threatened species and certain restrictions are in place with regard to possessing them. A member of the Colubridae family, indigo snakes feed on a variety of animals, including small mammals, amphibians, birds, lizards, baby turtles, and other snakes, including every species of venomous snake found in Florida.
The snake was historically found in southern Georgia, Alabama, eastern Mississippi and throughout much of Florida, but was largely extirpated from the ABRP due to habitat loss and fragmentation. The last sighting of an Eastern indigo in the ABRP prior to these latest release efforts occurred in 1982. The Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve is the only area designated by the state for the introduction of the indigo snake.