Endangered Species Act listing determination delayed for Louisiana pinesnake

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced a six-month extension of the final determination of whether to list the Louisiana pinesnake as a threatened species. The Service also has reopened the comment period on the proposed rule to list the species for an additional 30 days. The agency will submit a final listing determination to the Federal Register for publication on or before April 6, 2018.

The agency indicates that they have taken these steps “based on substantial disagreement regarding available information related to the interpretation of the available survey data used to determine the Louisiana pinesnake’s status and trends.” Thus, they are particularly interested in receiving additional survey information and trapping results.

The Louisiana pinesnake is found in west-central Louisiana and east Texas where they were historically associated with well-drained sandy soils dominated by open-canopy pine forests and abundant herbaceous vegetation. The proposed rule indicated that “loss and degradation of habitat” were important historical and ongoing threats to the species (81 FR 69468). Fire suppression and timber harvest are among the factors identified by the Service as contributing to habitat alteration.

In December 2016, NCASI submitted technical comments to the Service on the proposed rule which noted that intensively managed pine forests on private lands often have appropriate soils, open-canopy conditions and other habitat features important to pinesnakes. Therefore, on sites with these features, managed forests have significant potential to contribute to conservation of this species.

The announcement of the six-month extension and reopening of the comment period appeared in the October 6, 2017 issue of the Federal Register (82 FR 46748–46749). The proposed rule appeared in the October 6, 2016 issue (81 FR 69454–69475).  

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