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North Wales Aesculapians

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Noodles View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Noodles Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Mar 2013 at 11:53am

With regards the Large Blue, it’s the idea of defining natural range that I was really considering here. It seems logical to me that when an island, or otherwise isolated, population becomes extinct and is unable to recolonise naturally then any reintroduced population of that ‘species’ is no longer within its natural range (particularly one introduced from a different [Baltic] race). It is really irrelevant that the Large Blue is protected under the WCA since it is listed in Annexe IV of the Habitats Directive as a species of community interest and therefore subject to European protected status (not because of its WCA inclusion but in addition to it). I wanted to explore the idea of a reintroduced population, now clearly existing beyond its natural range, receiving full EU protection. One could even question the definition of a natural range when considering intra-UK Sand Lizard reintroductions, for example.

I know the Aesculapian snake is not native to the UK and never to the knowledge of anyone has it been; however, I can see some parallel, or level of hypocrisy, with the case of the Large Blue. I certainly think it is valid to be asking such questions when considering the eradication of an established ‘non-native’ population of EPS. The Directive is after all there to be challenged, improved and clarified. I think this case must be unique in the UK and needs better legal interpretation and further consideration from the relevant SNCO. Otherwise, as Jay rightly points out, where will this end?

Who is granting Wolfgang licences to take scale clippings and under what protection/control framework are the licences being granted? Do CCW already consider the population EPS? If so, on a scientifically understood population, what scientific or imperative reason is there to consider approving a licence for eradication or removal?

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Matt Harris View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Matt Harris Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Mar 2013 at 1:16pm
Originally posted by Caleb Caleb wrote:


Originally posted by Wolfgang Wuster Wolfgang Wuster wrote:

I had a chat with the Welsh Mountain Zoo, who pointed out that if they removed the snakes, presumably ownership would thereby return to them, and the ultimate fate of the snakes would also be their decision


But they would fall foul of the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) (Amendment) Regulations 2007


which make it illegal to take Aesculapian snakes from the wild, or to possess wild-caught specimens.

Will be interesting to see if DEFRA/CCW are willing to turn a blind eye to this, or will issue a licence- and if so, what conditions the licence would specify...


The amendments that you are referring to only applies to species in their natural range, which for the Aesculapian Snake, doesn't include the UK. The only statutory protection that these snakes would receive is under animal welfare legislation.
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Caleb View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Caleb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Mar 2013 at 9:23am
Originally posted by Matt Harris Matt Harris wrote:


The amendments that you are referring to only applies to species in their natural range, which for the Aesculapian Snake, doesn't include the UK. The only statutory protection that these snakes would receive is under animal welfare legislation.

I admitted several posts up that I was incorrect about taking from the wild. 

However, possession is an offence for a individual of any Annex IV(a) species taken from the wild in any European country- the naturalised Aesculapian snakes do fall into this category, and that's why Wolfgang needed a licence for his scale clippings.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Caleb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Mar 2013 at 9:30am
Originally posted by Noodles Noodles wrote:

I know the Aesculapian snake is not native to the UK and never to the knowledge of anyone has it been; however, I can see some parallel, or level of hypocrisy, with the case of the Large Blue.

I think I see where you're coming from now. Does it make it worse that the Aesculapian snake was probably native to the UK before the last ice age (bones having been found in East Anglia)?

It seems that the presence of a species on the list of 'animals which are established in the wild' (Wildlife & Countryside Act schedule 9) does not necessarily imply that it is not native, certainly not since the red kite was added to it in 2010- presumably to prevent unauthorised releases from interfering with 'official' release programmes.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Noodles Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Mar 2013 at 9:57am
That's more or less exactly what i'm trying to say and with no disrespect to you Caleb. I also wonder about the more exotic species that roamed about these lands before the Younger Dryas. However, I did not know the Aesculapian was one such species. It just adds another level to it all in my mind.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote will Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Mar 2013 at 4:15pm
Caleb wrote: 'However, possession is an offence for a individual of any Annex IV(a) species taken from the wild in any European country- the naturalised Aesculapian snakes do fall into this category, and that's why Wolfgang needed a licence for his scale clippings.'

Also you would need a special licence to be able to release any non-native into the wild (as in grey squirrels trapped in your loft which cannot then be released into your garden) - eg an Aescualpian snake taken in the hand to scale clip and ID; I gather that CCW were happy to licence this, but NE have not been so eager for the London population (though that seems rather academic, now...)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JaySteel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Mar 2013 at 7:01pm
Is this fight over then? Is there nothing we can do do have any effect on the future of these snakes?

Jason
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote will Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Mar 2013 at 6:43am
Hi Jason.  I am reasonably confident that apathy and lack of funding will combat the fundamentalist approach being adopted to the two populations of snakes.  The problems in trying to mobilise public opinion in favour of keeping the snakes as they are in the wild include: 1) they are snakes!  and 2) raising the profile means that every Tom Dick and Harry will come along and think theyre doing the animals a favour by catching them and putting them in a small aquarium tank in their home.  At the end of the day, if the populations are definitely going to be captured, then maybe it will be time to aim for more publicity and perhaps involve the media - but only as a last resort...?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Robert V Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Mar 2013 at 4:43pm

Of course Will, there is a third option...

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote JaySteel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Mar 2013 at 7:01pm
I think we need to make people aware of the possible consequences of allowing this to happen. As we've touched on, this could be just the start with a long list of other species at risk of being in the firing line next. If people are aware that some of the more "cute & fluffy" creatures are also potential targets then they might get on board. 

Who is it exactly that are making these decisions? I like to hear some names of the organisations and individuals behind this.
How can several decades of previous governments have no problem with the existence of these two aesculapian snake populations and then this current bunch come along and decide on the country's behalf that the snakes have to go?

I think we should be fighting to have some kind of hearing or public enquiry to ascertain as to whether this species is actually "invasive" and a genuine threat to our native wildlife or not. if there are no good reasons for their removal other than "they don't belong here" then they should be left alone. The more I read this thread the angrier I get about this situation. How can we be so powerless? Are there not enough of us that care to make any difference at all?

Jason
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