Federal Government Presses Louisiana to Preserve Rare Snake’s Habitat

by Megan Molseed
(Getty Images/Ken Baumgarten / 500px)

The Louisiana pine snake produces the largest eggs and hatchlings of any snake in the United States. However, now the Louisiana snake has some more news…as its habitat is now on its way to being officially protected by the federal government.

These pine snakes have been listed as threatened for four years now, making it into this category in 2018. According to the reports, the Louisiana pine snake population is facing a decline in the area for a variety of reasons. Some of these include construction projects that are drastically reducing the grassy areas that the pine snakes often populate. These long-leaf pine areas are known for sandy soil.

The pine snake’s future becomes more of a concern to experts as the large eggs that they lay mean there aren’t as many when the slithering creatures reproduce. The pine snakes’ eggs are usually as many as 5 inches long. They only lay around three at a time. This slowed reproduction means that losses can have a drastic impact on populations.

Pine Snakes Grow Up To Five Feet Long – But Spend Most Of Their Time Underground

The Louisiana pine snake can grow to be as big as five feet long. However, experts have a hard time counting these slithery creatures as they spend much of their time underground. When they are above ground the pine snakes are very well camouflaged among the area’s brown pine needles.

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service has moved to propose the pine snake’s habitats as critical. A large part of the critical pine snake habitats are within national forests, reports note. Other areas include private land that is covered by conservation agreement protections. The largest area of land to be included in these critical declarations is in northern Louisiana where the largest population of these snakes lives.

Critical Habitat Protections Are Limited

A critical habitat declaration brings only limited protection to areas. The protections only focus on contracts that are funded federally or contracts that require federal permits. In fact, some private landowners have the ability to challenge these declarations. However, experts note, this is part of the concern.

“Far too few private landowners care about nature and ensuring species like the Louisiana pine snake survive,” notes Noah Greenwald. Greenwald serves as the endangered species director at the environmental nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity.

“When it does happen it’s really great,” Greenwald adds.

Part of the proposed areas to be named as critical habitats in Louisiana is an 89-square-mile section near Rapides Parish. This also includes 68 square miles in Vernon Parish and 41 square miles in Grant Parish. Each of these areas has parts within the Kisatchie National Forest.