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North Wales Aesculapians

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will View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote will Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Feb 2013 at 9:20am

I have just found a thread elsewhere on the net in which there appears to be a serious attempt by some reptile keepers to gather momentum to capture the snakes, both in Wales and in London, ahead of any possible culling.  Hence I have posted this plea for calm for the time being; any concerted attempt to capture the animals (especially in London where the population is smaller and more localised) would only help in their eradication from the wild…

 

‘Hi, I have just stumbled on this thread and I would like to request that no-one tries to make the task of those who are pro-eradication easier by collecting animals (even for the best of reasons) until you are CERTAIN that eradication is going to happen.  I have been studying the London population in particular for five years and one thing is for sure - the population will go extinct if people collect even a few animals.  It's isolated and vulnerable to all manner of threats, and if only a few animals were to be taken into captivity this could tip the balance.  Consequently we would lose an intriguing and harmless (unless you are a Camden rat) addition to the reptile fauna of the UK.  And how ‘the authorities’ would love it if you were to do their work for them, by removing them from the wild (they don't care if the snakes are culled or taken into captivity, as long as the right box can be ticked in terms of removal).  By rendering the snakes extinct either in N Wales or London, useful data on population genetics and climate change would be lost which could help these snakes at the edge of their natural range as well.  So please, for the time being, leave them alone.  You can find out more about these two populations on the 'rauk forum' which I am sure many of you will already know.

Cheers

Will

Will Atkins
Chair of Trustees
London Essex and Hertfordshire Amphibian and Reptile Trust (LEHART)
charity number 1089466
www.lehart.org’

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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: 21 Feb 2013 at 11:42am
Thanks. I can see that this is sensible and vital advice. But is there anyone we can write to in protest. Should we start a 'save the snakes' campaign? Or would that be premature? How far have these plans got, in Wales and London?
 
Richard
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Feb 2013 at 11:52am
Link to thread:



I'm sure we all support the FBH in lobbying to prevent the eradication. Though I totally support Will's call for calm. I'm with Richard, I just wish we could do more as individuals to be heard. Perhaps we could use RAUK in some way to achieve this? Any suggestions?

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Wolfgang Wuster View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Wolfgang Wuster Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Feb 2013 at 2:37pm
There is a meeting coming up where this will be discussed, and which will hopefully reveal whether there is a real threat or whether it's just words.
Wolfgang Wüster

School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor

http://pages.bangor.ac.uk/~bss166/
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JaySteel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Feb 2013 at 3:37pm
I've added my support to your comments on the "captivebredreptileforum".
I hope all those who keep reptiles in captivity can also appreciate and support the conservation of reptiles in the wild too.

Jason
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote will Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Feb 2013 at 4:27pm

Thanks Jason – I’m assuming that since they are on a site called CAPTIVE bred reptile forum, they will not endorse taking animals from the wild...!Smile

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote John Newton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Feb 2013 at 7:50pm
Wolfgang

The vast majority of my records are associated with the sites that you are aware of within the zoo grounds, and coincident with locations studied by DD. Most visits reveal up to 5 or 6 animals (weather dependent), although it must be said that survey of adjacent woodland to the east of the zoo has never turned up anything. Talking to local residents in the immediate vicinity, they are aware of the animals, but do see odd individuals only very infrequently, so I would think that the bulk of the population remains contained within the zoo grounds.

From what I understand, there has only been one record of slow worm within the zoo, and I am not convinced that records of grass snake are reliable, and could easily be mistaken for juvenile aesculapian.

The only public dislike of these animals that I am aware of relate to complaints from mothers with children, who have previously been frightened by snakes appearing in the childrens play area - accusing the zoo of escaped inmates !

I did have a word with the zoo, a few years ago, inquiring as to whether there might be an unseen level of control being enforced on the snakes (irate mothers, bad PR etc), but I was told that there was no active control of the snakes at that time.

I do remain very apprehensive about the future of the animals, and am equally concerned that people with an interest in captive herps might well feel inclined to embark on their own capture initiative -  I hope not........



John Newton

South Yorkshire ARG
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Wolfgang Wuster View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Wolfgang Wuster Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Feb 2013 at 6:28pm
I was able to attend the meeting of the Wales Biodiversity Partnership Working Group on Invasive Non-Native Species in Aberystwyth yesterday, standing in for Chris Newman from the Federation of British Herpetologists, who could not make it/was smart enough not to inflict that drive on himself.

The upshot of it is that the opinion of the group is that the Aesculapians should be removed from the wild, and that the Welsh Mountain Zoo (and London Zoo) should be persuaded to do it. This was done on the philosophical basis that all alien species should be removed as a matter of principle, and that the only real chance of doing so is when they remain confined to a small area, as they are now. Moreover, there was also a strong view that Zoos have both a semi-legal (various Codes of Practice) and a moral duty to keep their animals confined and deal with anything that escapes, irrespective of whether it is likely to do damage - quite reasonably so by and large. The decision is clearly based on policy and principle (with a bit of box-ticking thrown in.....) rather than on need from a biological/conservation point of view, but the principles are hard to argue against.

The mechanics would be a matter of the zoos being asked/told to do the work, as opposed to death squads being sent in from outside. The issue of retaining the snakes alive and making them available to the private sector or to research establishments (Bangor University would be an obvious one) was also raised and will be retained for discussion. The precise legalities of that for European protected species still need to be worked out.

So in a nutshell, the long term prospects for the populations do not look rosy, but the timescale of any action is still unclear. Hopefully there will be ways to work towards a more imaginative solution regarding the fate of the snakes than mass euthanasia, especially since it will be the Zoos themselves who would be collecting the snakes. So, for the moment, we all need to stay calm, and please don't go in and collect the snakes independently, it would just mess up a whole bunch of things, including research projects.
Wolfgang Wüster

School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor

http://pages.bangor.ac.uk/~bss166/
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Feb 2013 at 8:02pm
I guess then they won't be concentrating on removing the real threat of alien species, such as making it an offence to allow domestic cats into gardens and the wild...

Very sad news indeed, I was hoping some form of common sense may prevail. But it appears it is on the agenda for no other reasons than it is an easy target, someone else has to bear the cost and a couple of boxes get ticked.

I have to say at best it is pitiful. 

I'm sure though Wulfgang we all appreciate both your and Chris's attempts to let sense prevail.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JaySteel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Feb 2013 at 8:15pm
I'm absolutely gutted about this. I've loved going to see and photograph these snakes in London for the past couple of years. I can't believe that such people get to make decisions like this and we all just have to go along with whatever they decide.

Jason
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