15 Eastern Indigo Snakes just released in year three of the North Florida recovery effort
“Raising snakes is not what you’d expect from one of our hatcheries, but it shows how the aquatics team can reproduce and grow critters — regardless if they swim or crawl,” said Leo Miranda, regional director for
the Service in the Southeast. “We are also working tirelessly with partners to restore the longleaf pine ecosystem that nurtures indigo snakes and myriad of other threatened and endangered species.”
Auburn University’s Alabama Natural Heritage Program brings knowledge to planning reintroduction efforts and expertise in onsite monitoring of the reintroduced snakes. Data collected from the snakes that were released in 2017 and 2018 continues to inform species recovery efforts. The initial 32 snakes released were implanted with radio transmitters by veterinary staff at the Central Florida Zoo which allow researchers to track the animals’ movements, habitat selection and behavior. One of the eastern indigo snakes that was released in 2017 traveled over a mile from where it was initially released, and two previously released snakes were observed together in the same burrow earlier this year.
The monitoring program is supported in part by The Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center, whose mission is to understand, demonstrate and promote excellence in natural resource management and landscape conservation in the southeastern coastal plains.
The indigo reintroduction efforts are supported by grants and other funding, including a Conserve Wildlife Tag Grant from the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida, funded through purchase of Conserve Wildlife Florida license plates and designated for conservation of non-game species and the habitats that support them.
“We are happy to be continuing this project with so many of our valued conservation partners this year,” said Kipp Frohlich, the FWC’s Director of Habitat and Species Conservation. “This release is another important step towards re-establishing a thriving population of this unique imperiled species in the longleaf pine forests of the Florida panhandle.”