MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A small garter snake whose protected status has delayed construction projects in Wisconsin was expected to come off the state’s endangered or threatened species list, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
The DNR proposed removing the non-poisonous Butler’s garter snake and 15 other creatures and plants from the list, which hasn’t been significantly changed since the 1990s.
The DNR has been pressured in recent years by the Metropolitan Builders Association of Milwaukee and some legislators to remove the snake from the protected list because its presence at some construction sites has held up the projects for months, and in some cases, years while the DNR reviewed the impact on the species.
There are now enough Butler’s garter snakes to warrant the species removal from the list, DNR zoologist Bill Smith told The Capital Times.
“There was a ton of data that we put through the grinder and we decided it wasn’t even close enough to be listed,” Smith said.
Not everyone is so sure the Butler’s snake should be removed from protected status.
Herpetologist Gary Casper, of West Bend, said the DNR has miscalculated how well the snake is doing and failed to solicit opinions from outside experts.
It mystifies me why they are delisting,” Casper said. “I haven’t seen any evidence the snake has made any recovery that would warrant subjecting the population to more development.”
The department did involve Casper and others in the process, according to DNR endangered species spokeswoman Terrell Hyde.
Other species the agency is proposing for removal include the barn owl and snowy egret. The DNR proposed to add eight species to the list, including three dragonflies.
Information from: The Capital Times, http://www.madison.com/tct