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Adder Reintroductions?

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GemmaJF View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jan 2012 at 5:07pm
I've been reading through the recent notes on adder conservation produced by Mike Philips following the SEARG UK regional meeting in November. (Perhaps someone would like to post up the notes because there are some interesting contributions).

Seems we all know that adder are under threat (now extinct from at least two counties where they previously occurred).
 
The most common issue I've seen is poor management of areas earmarked for 'conservation'. I hope we never see the day when we have to have specific adder reserves because they are deemed too dangerous for the general public and the message of sympathetic management never gets put across..

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sussexecology View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sussexecology Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jan 2012 at 6:28pm
Yes agreed re conservation.
 
That's why i think conservation and ecology don't mix.
 
I for one would never go back to working in the conservation sector.
 
The decline of the adder is of course another reason for taking part in the Make the Adder Count Project. Like others have mentioned in other threads on this forum, I'm not happy to "name" sites where I know there are adders, but data-sharing is so important.
 
Particularly on areas which are managed by conservation groups.
 
Not saying at all that groups are a bad thing but all too often I hear stories of conservation groups thinking they are doing good to the environment byundertaking large scale work at the wrong time of year or management that is detrimental to reptiles. It's obvious that this results in a loss of key reptile populations. Even if they have got a management plan in place, it's not enough as they don't address the needs for reptiles inc adders.
 
 
 
 
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GemmaJF View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jan 2012 at 7:56pm
The most common excuse I hear is that they are taking a holistic approach and frown upon 'single species management'.... 

Surely though any 'holistic' approach considers the basic needs of the resident wildlife before they carryout the management.. apparently not in many cases.

Tony Phelps coined the phrase 'throwing the baby out with the bath water' on here several years ago. Nothing has changed from what I see on the ground. This is now, it would be totally preventable if these 'conservation' organisations would accept outside help as just that HELP instead of criticism. 


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sussexecology View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sussexecology Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Jan 2012 at 9:08pm
Originally posted by GemmaJF GemmaJF wrote:

The most common excuse I hear is that they are taking a holistic approach and frown upon 'single species management'.... 

Surely though any 'holistic' approach considers the basic needs of the resident wildlife before they carryout the management.. apparently not in many cases.

Tony Phelps coined the phrase 'throwing the baby out with the bath water' on here several years ago. Nothing has changed from what I see on the ground. This is now, it would be totally preventable if these 'conservation' organisations would accept outside help as just that HELP instead of criticism. 


 
 
Totally agree with you on the acceptance of outside help for these conservation organisations. But they won't and from where I am standing from, nothing has changed. There are a few of us working with S/E who moved into ecology from the conservation sector, and it's ironic that we all feel the same. Not just me then!
 
 A bit of education would go a long way I think. But then we consultants don't want to "lecture" to these conservation groups. Best way is to try and make a compromise. But we could help each other, if we really put our minds to it.
 
The basic needs of the resident wildlife
Yes, you'd think that this would be an obvious starting point. For example, I've just completed one management plan for one of our reptile receptor sites. It doesn't just focus on reptiles but on the needs of other species present such as invertebrates as well as nesting birds, which are known to be present.
 
Having said that, if these conservation organisations managed their sites for inverts and small mammals in a sympathetic manner, then they've pretty much cracked it. A sympathetic manner would be timing the management to a time of year that is going to have least impact on species and not managing huge blocks of land in any one year. Job done!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sussexecology Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jan 2012 at 3:15am
A thought just came to me in regards to conservation groups and ecology that may be important (depending on how other people feel).
Some of our team have volunteered with conservation groups in the past and found that in some groups, there are mixed feelings between conservationists and ecologists/consultants.
 
Certainly a few people here have experienced problems with "conservation volunteers" being jealous of those working in the ecological field. 
 
In one case, bitterness from other "conservation volunteers" towards an individual was so severe that they were put off volunteering for life. This person volunteered at the time because there was no work available, and needed a rest from ecological work. When I say bitterness, I mean back-stabbing, rude comments being made behind their back when they were on a task, a very uncomfortable atmosphere, bullying and turning new volunteers against this individual etc. I only know this because the individual told me about their experience and I was horrified. 
 
i don't think it's right to name the conservation group concerned either but if I was given a chance then I would because I think it was an absoltely disgusting way to treat volunteers that way, regardless of their capabilities or previous work experience.
 
I personally think the conservation group should be named and shamed, but there are other reasons why I don't want to do this, because it is also unfair on the individual concerned. I'm not sure if the staff knew what was going on, but pretty sure that they must have done. It would be quite hard not to notice things like that going on.
 
Going back to the point on adder re-introductions, has anyone drawn up a habitat suitability index for measuring the suitability of a suitable receptor site that is specific to adders. Translocations involving snakes are not always successful, and both grass snakes and adders are known to be two species which are not very tolerant of being translocated to another site. There is a reference to this in a handbook.
 
Regards
Sussex Ecology
 
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Richard2 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Richard2 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jan 2012 at 6:17am
I find this surprising. It's a long time, admittedly, since I did any volunteering, but when I did I never saw the hostility you describe. I'd be interested to know more. What causes it, do you think?
 
For an example of the attitude we're up against, look here (third item in the column):
It is telling that even a newspaper so much concerned with injustice should carry a comment so casually and ignorantly full of species-ism, and so ignorant of ecology.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jan 2012 at 9:12am
I'm not in the least bit surprised by this sort of behaviour. I have experienced hostility from the very top of Wildlife Trusts right down to the workers on the ground. 

I use to think there could be a way to educate. 

Now I rather think the only way to change attitudes would be a prosecution under the WCA for unlawful killing of adder. 

This form of public embarrassment might just lead to these organisations seeking help from those who have expertise with these animals. This isn't only herp related, I know some very accomplished ecologists/scientists in varied fields who have had exactly the same experiences. Most of us now pick our battles and work with those who are willing to listen and learn. At many sites though all we can do is watch with dismay as they are trashed by the very people charged with protecting them. 

I totally agree that what is good for inverts is good for nesting birds, good for mammals and good for herps. I've never overlooked that however due to the ecology of adder in particular there is a special case for safeguarding habitat features such as hibernacula, especially during widespread clearance works.

Personally I would name and shame. I have no qualms at all in stating that EWT, the National Trust and NE have in the past all worked together in Essex to keep the doors closed and 'get things done' regardless of wildlife legislation... when it suited them. I have on record the NE team admitting the 'double standards' involved. Very much a case of NE trust the other organisations to know what they are doing, the other organisations completely ignore the WCA claiming that NE sanctioned the work and so it goes on. All organisations agree that if they actually respected the WCA they would 'get nothing done'. This isn't the case, if they were willing to accept outside help the work could be done, without killing adder, in most cases it only needs very slight modification to to the management plan, but they just don't want to know.

Effectively the adder are stripped of their protection under the WCA and I get to watch as another site is compromised. 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Northern Venom Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jan 2012 at 9:35am
Having worked with Adders for 35 or so years the ignorance and lack of respect shown to adders has always shocked me.

Many of us old timers including Tony Phelps were expressing concern about declining populations a long time ago but these concerns were never listened to especially by the likes of NE.

I am sure many of us cannot understand why they are not given full protection.

My own opinion is that they never will.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Paul Hudson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jan 2012 at 1:08pm
I would also agree that adders should be given full protection is there any way we could push this forward ??Gemma I too have spoken with a N.E staff member who had designed an HLS plan that was having a detrimental effect on adders,(through grazing cattle) and one of her comments was she wasn't going to alter the plan to suit a few little snakes , left me rarther gob smacked !
Paul Hudson
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Northern Venom Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Jan 2012 at 1:44pm
Originally posted by Paul Hudson Paul Hudson wrote:

I would also agree that adders should be given full protection is there any way we could push this forward ??Gemma I too have spoken with a N.E staff member who had designed an HLS plan that was having a detrimental effect on adders,(through grazing cattle) and one of her comments was she wasn't going to alter the plan to suit a few little snakes , left me rarther gob smacked !


Whilst sad it doesnt surprise me!
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