For Immediate Release, January 26, 2023
Chelsea Stewart-Fusek, (971) 717-6425, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lawsuit Aims to Protect Imperiled Southern Hognose Snakes
Unique Species Has Declined by 60%, Faces Numerous Threats
WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today to gain Endangered Species Act protection for southern hognose snakes in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.
Southern hognose snakes, known for their unique, upturned snouts, have experienced population declines of at least 60%. The Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that three-quarters of the snakes’ populations could soon be lost and none of the remaining populations will be resilient. The species has already disappeared from Alabama and Mississippi.
“The southern hognose snake is in desperate need of protection to avoid extinction,” said Chelsea Stewart-Fusek, an endangered species attorney at the Center. “The Trump administration ignored the science when it decided not to protect these snakes. The Service has to correct its errors if this unique species is ever going to recover.”
Southern hognose snakes live in the longleaf pine ecosystem, a fire-dependent forest habitat that once covered 92 million acres in the Atlantic and Gulf Coast regions. By the 21st century, 97% of longleaf pine forests had been lost to forest clearing and fire suppression. Threats like urban expansion, sea-level rise, and the invasive and deadly red imported fire ant are expected to cause significant southern hognose snake declines in the future.
“Southern hognose snakes have developed some really neat adaptations to survive, like digging burrows,” said Stewart-Fusek. “They’re harmless to humans, and when threatened by a predator they freeze in place or play dead. But sadly the impressive adaptations that helped these little snakes survive for millions of years are no match for the human-caused threats they face today.”
The snakes’ remaining populations are threatened by a number of stressors, including habitat loss, urbanization, climate change, collisions with vehicles, invasive species, disease, human persecution, and collection for the pet trade.
Today’s suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.