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USFWS Forced to Make Decision on Kirtland Snake Endangered Species Protection

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has until September 17, 2017 to determine whether the Kirtland’s snake (Clonophis kirtlandii), should be p

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has until September 17, 2017 to determine whether the Kirtland’s snake (Clonophis kirtlandii), should be protected by the Endangered Species Act, thanks to a settlement reached with the Center for Biological Diversity.


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USFWS Sued For Not Listing Kirtland Snake as Endangered Species


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The Center petitioned the USFWS in 2010 to protect the species and in 2011, the USFWS determined that the snake may warrant protections, but failed to act on the mandated 12 month finding on whether placing the snake on the list was warranted. In other words, the USFWS had one year to gather the data to make a determination with regard to the status of the snake but didn’t do so. So the Center sued the service for failing to act.

Both sides have now come to an agreement. If placed on the Endangered Species List, the snake’s wetland habitat would be better protected and the snake could make a rebound in its population numbers. 

The Kirtland’s snake was once a common snake that was found in 100 counties in 8 states, but its population has since dwindled due to loss of its prairie wetland habitat. The snake is currently found in scattered pockets in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. The snake averages 12-18 inches in length and are grayish brown with round, almost checkered spots running down its back. It feeds on invertebrates such as earthworms and slugs, but also eats minnows, salamanders, frogs, and toads. 

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John B. Virata keeps a ball python, two corn snakes, a king snake, and two leopard geckos. His first snake, a California kingsnake, was purchased at the Pet Place in Westminster, CA for $5. Follow him on Twitter @johnvirata