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Adder Reintroductions?

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    Posted: 24 Mar 2011 at 12:12am

Just wondering at what point we should consider reintroductions of adder and the pros and cons.

It's early days but NARRs seems to indicate a low rate of occupancy, which is no surprise, it wasn't all that long ago that one job of gamekeepers was to go and kill as many adder as they could at the hibernation sites.

For sure I often find habitat that looks ideal but adder are absent, if we assume people were responsible for wiping them out, surely in 2011 we should now be thinking of putting them back again!

If we assume what we see now is due to former persecution and can also assume that adder these days have better press (I'm more likely to find middle age couples these days looking for adder rather than trying to avoid them) how long until we consider a programme of national reintroductions?

For sure monitoring existing sites is a priorty now (are they stable, is the decline for some other reason?), but I would be interested in thoughts on this. How could reintroductions be carried out? Captive breeding? Development translocations? Local translocation of young?

If a project like this was to go ahead, who would be involved and fund it?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote will Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Mar 2011 at 6:02pm
Assuming the usual caveats, such as identification of why they went extinct and ensuring that this couldn't still be a factor, I'd love to see some of this to offset losses elsewhere.  In London it looks impossible, since those areas which previously held adders are now wrecked beyond hope (eg Hampstead Heath ain't a heath any longer) or subject to regular people pressure - arson etc.  However I'd like to see it done in the Bernwood Forest area of Oxfordshire/Bucks which used to have a great adder population a hundred years ago, persisting up to the 60's, when the Forest was planted with conifers.  Since the 90's much of this has been felled and there are large tracts of rough grass, bramble, balckthorn, hawthorn etc and a few recovering Zv, Af and Nn populations in the forest - as well as being a top site for butterflies.  All it's missing is a thriving adder population along the rides and in the glades..
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote administrator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Mar 2011 at 11:23pm
Sounds ideal Will, right habitat, historical population,
clear reason for extinction. Is there no chance at all of a
surviving population or eventual recolinisation?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JamesM Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Mar 2011 at 11:41pm

I would be more than happy to keep a breeding group of Vipera berus, breed them, raise the neonates in to respectable sizes and release them.

The issue here, is, under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act of 1976, you'd need the Licence to keep Adders privately for reintroduction programs if done by a private individual. Not a problem for me, as I will be applying in the future for the licence anyways.

I would really like to see something like this go forward, but, here's the question - how do we avoid passing pathegon's to wild populations that they may not have a resistance to?

Interesting thought!

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote administrator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Mar 2011 at 11:56pm
You could test them for pathogens. Not sure about berus
in captivity other than large outdoor enclosures, not a
great captive subject. With them only breeding every
couple of years a captive breeding project would need
lots of research. Not to say that it couldn't be done,
it's done with sand lizards. I would have trouble though
chucking Zv in for the neonates to eat!

Did wonder about short term translocation of females to
an in situ enclosure. Let them drop and get them back to
their native hibernation site for the winter.(we did have
a similar thread in the early days of RAUK, at the time
most felt it wasn't necessary to reintroduce adder, not
sure now with the NARRS results that is such a convincing
argument).

Myself I've often wondered if the point of recording is
just to record declines in adder or if at some stage
there will be a consensus to actually do something about
it!

Took a look at Bernwood on Google Earth Will, if I got
the right place, nearby disused airfield, connectivity to
M40, nearby golf course. All places that could be
surveyed to check for existing local populations. If
none, and I did find the right place, it looks like an
ideal candidate for a reintroduction.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JamesM Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Mar 2011 at 12:00pm

Don't know.

I only know of one person in the UK who keeps and breeds Adders.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote administrator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Mar 2011 at 2:42pm
Seems the key might be raising the juveniles. As a re-think of my earlier in situ enclosure, perhaps a case of taking gravid females into captivity and releasing them once they have given birth. The question then, is it then necessary to raise the young to a reasonable size? With low survivourability of the young in the wild I guess it would be ideal. They could also then be screened for pathogens. The only reservation I would still have is feeding them live lizards, I wonder if there is an alternative or if they would take commercially available 'pinkies'.

Do keep us informed Brett, I think at the very least we are now at a point where trial reintroductions are worth piloting so a method can be established without people objecting to the concept.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Robert V Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Mar 2011 at 5:19pm

Hi,

visited 5 well known Adder sites in Epping Forest today - all gone I'm afraid. Not looking good down here. I used to find up to 30 in 1994 - 1998.

 R

RobV
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Paul Hudson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Mar 2011 at 5:23pm

The adders in the Lyndhurst reptiliary do produce young ,I have seen them a few years back, I think it was 2005 I'm also involved with breeding the Merseyside sand lizards for re-intro ,and that's a project that works really well.

Also I think it may be illegal to feed live lizards to snakes?

Paul Hudson
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Robert V Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Mar 2011 at 7:36am

I hope its illegal Paul.

But I've a feeling one well known farm around here does exactly that.

RobV
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