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Adder Reintroductions?

Printed From: Reptiles and Amphibians of the UK
Category: Herpetofauna Native to the UK
Forum Name: Adder
Forum Description: Forum for all issues concerning Vipera berus
URL: http://www.herpetofauna.co.uk/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=3559
Printed Date: 14 Dec 2018 at 5:51pm
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Topic: Adder Reintroductions?
Posted By: administrator
Subject: Adder Reintroductions?
Date 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?




Replies:
Posted By: will
Date 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..


Posted By: administrator
Date 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?


Posted By: JamesM
Date 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!



Posted By: administrator
Date 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.


Posted By: JamesM
Date Posted: 25 Mar 2011 at 12:00pm

Don't know.

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



Posted By: administrator
Date 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.


Posted By: Robert V
Date 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


Posted By: Paul Hudson
Date 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


Posted By: Robert V
Date 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


Posted By: JamesM
Date Posted: 26 Mar 2011 at 7:51pm

Live feeding is not illegal if done privately, it's only illegal if it's done publicly, so I am aware.



Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 28 Mar 2011 at 12:17pm
Let's remember guys this is a theoretical debate, but it's
interesting to bring up th legalities.

The question is would raising the young be a requirement of
reintroducitons? Or would simply releasing neos into a
receptor area work?


Posted By: Robert V
Date Posted: 28 Mar 2011 at 1:55pm

Raising young would be essential in my opinion. The odds are stacked too high against survival otherwise.



-------------
RobV


Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 28 Mar 2011 at 4:17pm
So though we can see advantages, captive rearing raises
lots of issues, DWA, legality of feeding live food, cost,
possible affect of captive adaption. I have to say from a
practical point of view onsite release of gravid females
to a secure area to give birth makes sense. (If it can be
proven to work)

Brett what would be the plan? Capture females from say
two or three nearest donor sites over say three seasons
so you have a succession of litters born on site with a
cross section of local genes? Just image in a few years
finding the first 'home' born adders onsite, that would
really be something!


Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 28 Mar 2011 at 9:18pm
Absolutely Brett, my interest is entirely local
conservation. To improve occupancy at a local level using
this sort of technique would be a great achievement.

I certainly would like to see this done, be a lot more
interesting if one was surveying a site and finding no
adder, particularly a historical site, if there really was
an option of reintroduction at the end of the day.


Posted By: Liz Heard
Date Posted: 28 Mar 2011 at 11:40pm
hi folks,
just to throw in a local example, Stroud Cemetery has a few isolated adder. just along the valley there used to be more (in south facing woodland glades on the farm where my mum grew up - she remembers them) and inbetween theres another (viperaless) location called Snakeshole.
it got that name for a reason ive no doubt.
isolated pockets of ZV persisted here and in other pockets til the 70s. saw them myself.

looking at 18 and 19c etchings of this vale you can easily see the whole thing was probably once a haven for both sp.
(land management is the problem now , not development. so the potential is still there)


you guys are the experts not me but from all ive read on RAUK and elsewhere, i wouldnt be surprised if the cemetery adders and vivs are on their way out unless some sort of habitat development/management linking nearby former sites and reintros are done soon.

i realise theres probably little chance of this happening.


Posted By: AGILIS
Date Posted: 29 Mar 2011 at 7:31am
Hi Ben no doubt the local curate will soon be getting the
Rosemary & Time team in to give it a quick make over that
dont leave a space for tatty old snakes and lizards
spoiling the the pretty flowers

-------------
   LOCAL ICYNICAL CELTIC ECO WARRIOR AND FAILED DRUID


Posted By: Northern Venom
Date Posted: 26 Jan 2012 at 12:49pm
Originally posted by Paul Hudson Paul Hudson wrote:


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



It is not illegal though should be discouraged.

My neonate berus eat defrosted pinkie mice so no need to go down that route


Posted By: Northern Venom
Date Posted: 26 Jan 2012 at 12:57pm
This has the potential to become an extremely interesting debate bringing the various issues which most adder capture and translocation or introduction schemes in to play.

There is the legality of those wanting to keep adders (very few in the UK).

The issue of a Dangerous Wild Animal Licence not easy to obtain!

DEFRA animal transport licence

Insurance is an important issue as what happens to Mr X who releases adders to a previously "abandoned site" and little Jonny gets tagged?

Bad PR for adders and possible litigation?

The issues go on but it makes an interesting topic that I am happy to have an input into


Posted By: will
Date Posted: 26 Jan 2012 at 4:52pm
the possibility of litigation also influences local authorities and makes it hard / impossible to get official permission to introduce and even re-introduce adders overtly to many sites, especially in areas of high human presence, such as near towns and cities.  I can only see this problem getting worse in the future, unless people take a more pragmatic attitude to risk.  If adders do start to go the way of the rarer species, they will be much harder to place in suitable habitat than non-venomous species... 


Posted By: GemmaJF
Date 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..



Posted By: sussexecology
Date 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.
 
 
 
 


Posted By: GemmaJF
Date 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. 




Posted By: sussexecology
Date 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!


Posted By: sussexecology
Date 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
 


Posted By: Richard2
Date 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):
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2011/nov/24/emulate-christ-tribunal-cheek-slapped - http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2011/nov/24/emulate-christ-tribunal-cheek-slapped
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.


Posted By: GemmaJF
Date 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. 
 


Posted By: Northern Venom
Date 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.




Posted By: Paul Hudson
Date 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


Posted By: Northern Venom
Date 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!


Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 28 Jan 2012 at 2:27pm
Though I would welcome full protection i.e. habitat protection for adder, I don't think it would make any difference.

Adder already have protection against unlawful killing. This is ignored.

The organisations I have mentioned also ride roughshod over GCN terrestrial habitat which is already protected, as well as ignoring advice (pleas) regarding adder.

The attitude is always one of 'we wont' change the plan just to suit one species' if they understood the range of species on their sites in the first place I rather think they could come up with better management schemes and we wouldn't have to champion a particular species, often out of shear desperation. Which is why it comes back for me to a prosecution. It's not that this is an isolated case, most of us have these stories to tell and until someone gets a big fine or imprisonment, they will just carry on business as usual.

We need to literally force a situation where these people carryout pre-works surveys and are made accountable. As is, far too often it a case of picking up the pieces when the damage is already done.


Posted By: sussexecology
Date Posted: 28 Jan 2012 at 5:57pm
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 !
 
Paul and Gemma, I would agee with you totally on full protection for adders. I'd like to see full protection for all of the widespread reptiles species too. Especially making their habitat protected too, not just the animals. This is because i totally agree with Gemma on the habitats that are destroyed by clearance work without a proper survey or mitigation carried out beforehand. Not to mention the loss of hibernation sites or egg laying sites. The loss of these areas would seriously affect the reptile populations.
 
Maybe the protection of known hibernation sites or grass snake egg laying sites would be the solution to this problem. Would be worth looking into at least.
 
Wish there was more we could do for getting this full protection, but out of our hands. At least if NE could look at protecting reptile habitats, that would be a good starting point me thinks. 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Posted By: Richard2
Date Posted: 28 Jan 2012 at 6:24pm

I entirely believe what Gemma, Sussexecology, Paul and others are saying, but I still don't understand how the attitude they describe arises. Why do the managers of conservation agencies think like this? They are supposed to be devoted to wildlife conservation; that's their mission, and presumably they went into that kind of work out of strong personal motivation; most of them, anyway. So what has gone wrong? Is it specifically reptiles and amphibians they don't care about, as compared to birds and mammals or a certain landscape-aesthetic? Have they no basic training in ecology? Are they responding to a range of assertive client-groups - bird-watchers, tourists, ramblers, government bodies - whose opinions they fear much more than those of the few people interested in reptiles?

If we are to have any chance of pushing for change, I think we need to understand a bit more about why they think as they do.


Posted By: sussexecology
Date Posted: 28 Jan 2012 at 6:27pm
Originally posted by GemmaJF GemmaJF wrote:

Though I would welcome full protection i.e. habitat protection for adder, I don't think it would make any difference.

Adder already have protection against unlawful killing. This is ignored.

The organisations I have mentioned also ride roughshod over GCN terrestrial habitat which is already protected, as well as ignoring advice (pleas) regarding adder.

The attitude is always one of 'we wont' change the plan just to suit one species' if they understood the range of species on their sites in the first place I rather think they could come up with better management schemes and we wouldn't have to champion a particular species, often out of shear desperation. Which is why it comes back for me to a prosecution. It's not that this is an isolated case, most of us have these stories to tell and until someone gets a big fine or imprisonment, they will just carry on business as usual.

We need to literally force a situation where these people carryout pre-works surveys and are made accountable. As is, far too often it a case of picking up the pieces when the damage is already done.
 
So so true Gemma
 
If clients ignore our advice, then they leave themselves open to prosecution. We can only give them the advice, but if they decide to ignore that advice - then there is nothing that we can do. I mean we can't stand guard at the site to make sure that they don't clear the site as we simply don't have the time for this. That's why we always put our advice in writing, as well as verbal over the phone.
 
But agree with what you say regarding picking up a case when the damage has been done.


Posted By: Richard2
Date Posted: 28 Jan 2012 at 6:31pm
Well, just picking up this idea - what if a group of adder-lovers actually did turn up and hold a demonstration, obstructing the path of the bulldozers, as it were? I bet the local newspapers would be interested; perhaps even national news. Could we organise this?


Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 28 Jan 2012 at 7:09pm
I would be there Richard.

I hate to sound so cynical (OK I don't anymore I was made cynical over time) but the reason for it is simply, money.

These organisations rely on funding schemes. A particularly lucrative funding stream is available for 'heathland restoration'. The cheapest and easiest way to then carryout the works is to bring in heavy plant machinery. Job done in a day, most of the funding goes to 'other projects'. 

Too many of the people involved I'm afraid to say are only doing it because it is a 'job'. They 'know enough to get by' and that is about where it ends. Often they do not stay in the job for more than a year or so before moving on. Those that have been around for a long time seem to be almost exclusively botanists who are quite happy to 'garden' what is left of our heathlands for one or two plant species whilst completely ignoring the needs of existing wildlife.

Sorry to put it so bluntly, but that is what I have seen time and again. When someone comes along and says, 'can you rethink your management scheme' the ranks close to protect the funding stream. The person attempting to advise is bad mouthed, undermined and generally disregarded as a 'trouble maker'.

Do you know for example that I'm effectively 'banned' from surveying EWT sites just for sending them a single report which advised against future soil scraping at an already compromised site? If it wasn't so sad it would be hilarious...


Posted By: sussexecology
Date Posted: 28 Jan 2012 at 8:48pm
Originally posted by Richard2 Richard2 wrote:

I entirely believe what Gemma, Sussexecology, Paul and others are saying, but I still don't understand how the attitude they describe arises. Why do the managers of conservation agencies think like this? They are supposed to be devoted to wildlife conservation; that's their mission, and presumably they went into that kind of work out of strong personal motivation; most of them, anyway. So what has gone wrong? Is it specifically reptiles and amphibians they don't care about, as compared to birds and mammals or a certain landscape-aesthetic? Have they no basic training in ecology? Are they responding to a range of assertive client-groups - bird-watchers, tourists, ramblers, government bodies - whose opinions they fear much more than those of the few people interested in reptiles?

If we are to have any chance of pushing for change, I think we need to understand a bit more about why they think as they do.
 
Thanks for your comments Richard.
 
I will try and answer as best I can, but Gemma has pretty much covered everything.
 
Conservation groups manage their land on a large scale. I for one used to work on nature reserves so i have this seen this for myself. For example, the site manager instructed us to clear an area of really good habitat for reptiles at the wrong time of year (ie work undertaken in the summer months). It wasn't just a little patch of vegetation in a field, but a mass extensive amount of vegetation. No thought was given to the impacts it would have on the reptiles.
 
Ecological consultants on the other hand undertake habitat management work in a completely different manner. For example, we may clear vegetation to increase the capture rate of reptiles when on a mitigation project. This is undertaken gradually where the height of the vegetation is gradually reduced and to a max height og 15 cm (if there are GCN present). The whole process can take 2 - 3 days depending on the area that is being cleared.
 
For Reptile Receptor sites, ecological consultants carry out habitat management work to enhance habitats at the right time of year and on a rotation. For example, cutting vegetation is carried out between November - February (with care taken at the latter end if the weather is mild).
 
Hope that answers your question. I have been on both sides and i entered into ecology because there was an opportunity at the time. If things had worked out differently, I would probably still be working in conservation. It's only until you work in ecology that you see the differences.
 
I'll answer your earlier question when I have a moment. Bye for now.
 
 


Posted By: sussexecology
Date Posted: 28 Jan 2012 at 8:55pm
Originally posted by GemmaJF GemmaJF wrote:

I would be there Richard.

I hate to sound so cynical (OK I don't anymore I was made cynical over time) but the reason for it is simply, money.

These organisations rely on funding schemes. A particularly lucrative funding stream is available for 'heathland restoration'. The cheapest and easiest way to then carryout the works is to bring in heavy plant machinery. Job done in a day, most of the funding goes to 'other projects'. 

Too many of the people involved I'm afraid to say are only doing it because it is a 'job'. They 'know enough to get by' and that is about where it ends. Often they do not stay in the job for more than a year or so before moving on. Those that have been around for a long time seem to be almost exclusively botanists who are quite happy to 'garden' what is left of our heathlands for one or two plant species whilst completely ignoring the needs of existing wildlife.

Sorry to put it so bluntly, but that is what I have seen time and again. When someone comes along and says, 'can you rethink your management scheme' the ranks close to protect the funding stream. The person attempting to advise is bad mouthed, undermined and generally disregarded as a 'trouble maker'.

Do you know for example that I'm effectively 'banned' from surveying EWT sites just for sending them a single report which advised against future soil scraping at an already compromised site? If it wasn't so sad it would be hilarious...
 
Agreed.
 
Funny really because the conservation group that I was referring to earlier was indeed a wildlife trust.
 
Can't believe that EWT would behave like that. I mean you did them a favour by sending in the report with your recommendations. i got to agree with you though that it is very sad.


Posted By: Robert V
Date Posted: 29 Jan 2012 at 12:37pm
The two most important items in Gemma's statements are:-
 
1) Cost - everything nowadays is subject to economies - if a trust can "manage" their land by machine rather than by manual labour ( with the shortgae of volunteers) then that's what will happen. Prioritising they call it, and, and until someone is prosecuted, habitat protection of reptiles will come way down the list.
 
2) Staff moving on - we all know (don't we?) that the quickest way to progress to senior positions is by regularly changing employers. Unfortunately, personal ambition overides good intentions. Staff turn over means local knowledge is often forgotten. Site staff then become disiilusioned and apathetic when they report mismanagement to senior staff only for it to be ignored once a new senior comes in.
 
But i agree with the protest thing and would gladly lend my presence and placard. a ball-rolling exercise to give the NE the kick up the pants it derserves.
 
R
 
 


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RobV


Posted By: Richard2
Date Posted: 30 Jan 2012 at 11:30am
I see. Well, it rings true; it's consistent with the way a lot of other things are done.
 
If anyone is in a position to know when one of these harmful actions is going to take place, please post the details in this forum. We could try to organise some sort of demo - it would need at least twenty to be effective, I imagine, and normal channels of complaint would have to be tried first.


Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 30 Jan 2012 at 1:30pm
I think an ideal strategy would be:

1) Identify a site with a known adder population that is to be subjected to large scale clearance work

2) Contact the organisation(s) involved. Outline the need for pre-works survey and their obligation under the WCA to not unlawfully kill adder. This can only be achieved if the population density is understood and key habitat features are protected. (I'm not keen on only protecting hibernacula. It is part of the adders ecology for male adders to disperse into surrounding habitat and set-up surface dens to intercept the females. This habitat must also be managed considerately). A paper trail will need to be kept to ensure we have evidence that the presence of adder was highlighted to the organisations and our concerns voiced.

3) In the event of them not producing an acceptable survey report and mitigation strategy for the site - disrupt the works with a protest.

4) Maintain a presence onsite and if any adder is killed though thoughtless management of the site, pursue a prosecution under the WCA for unlawful killing.

Any other thoughts appreciated.


Posted By: Robert V
Date Posted: 30 Jan 2012 at 5:24pm
Hi,
 
is not 19 the magic number? That is you can legally have 19 members of the public on a protest legally or is that just in picketing situations?
 
R


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RobV


Posted By: Fynbos
Date Posted: 05 Feb 2012 at 12:42am
Why do you think I moved to South Africa? (Yes I'm Back). Nothing much has changed by the look of it, NE still looking at the dream of Hardy's Egdon Heath i.e. monoculture of heather.
The fact that the adder is venomous is irrelevant; snakes are one of the most important vertebrate predators in an ecosystem where they occur - what happend to Biodiversity???
 
Here in SA we don't condemn the cape cobra or Puff adder for being venomous Conservation bodies here such as cape natuire and sanparks accept them as an integral part of habitats.
We are also strict on relocating. When I deal with problem snakes they have to be released within 20km from point of origin. If not they are euthanased. That may sound harsh, and it doesn't happen often, nut its being realistic and not playing up to the bunnhy huggers.
 
Thats why I am against translocations of adders in the UK unless it is local. It just gives one a 'feelgood factor' but little to do with practical conservation.


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I get mu kicks on route 62



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