Center for Biological Diversity

Media Advisory, February 13, 2023

Contact:

Camila Cossío, Center for Biological Diversity, (971) 717-6427, ccossio@biologicaldiversity.org
Rafael Joglar, scientist, (787) 365-6165, rjoglar@gmail.com
Alberto R. Puente-Rolón, scientist, (787) 449-6254, Alberto.puente@upr.edu

Snake Experts to Oppose Removing Federal Protections From Puerto Rican Boa

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico— The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will hold a virtual public meeting on Thursday about its proposed rule to remove Endangered Species Act protections from the Puerto Rican boa. The Puerto Rican boa is currently listed as an endangered species.

Experts have widely opposed the Service’s proposal, stating that the agency does not have enough information to remove the boa’s protections. The experts cite the Service’s own assessment that the size of the Puerto Rican boa’s wild population is unknown and that threats to its existence persist, including development that is fragmenting its habitat, climate change, and human persecution due to stigma against snakes and trafficking of snake oil.

The Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, experts from the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo and others have submitted comments to the Service underscoring the agency’s lack of information on the boa’s population status in the wild. Experts also assert that the Service’s modeling overestimates available habitat and species populations.

“I’m concerned by the proposal to remove protections from the Puerto Rican boa,” said biologist Rafael Joglar, Ph.D. “There’s not enough data to justify this decision, and these snakes continue to face a great many threats.”

What: Virtual public meeting on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposed rule to remove the Puerto Rican boa from the list of endangered species under the Endangered Species Act.

When: Feb. 16, 2023, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. EST.

Where: Virtual public meeting on Zoom platform. Registration is required and available at this link. More information available here.

Who: All members of the public with an interest in the conservation of the Puerto Rican boa are invited to attend the webinar and to submit comments on the Service’s proposed rule. Attendees will have the opportunity to provide oral testimony.

Background:

The Puerto Rican boa is a harmless snake found only in Puerto Rico. It has been protected as an endangered species since the 1970s. It can grow up to 6.6 feet in length and range in color from tan and reddish brown to very dark brown with dark bars or spots along its body. Female snakes tend to be more plump than male snakes.

Puerto Rican boas can be found in many landscapes, including caves and forests. The boas eat rats, mice, bats, lizards, birds and frogs and have even been known to eat land crabs and insects. Female snakes give birth to live young instead of laying eggs.

In July 2022 the Fish and Wildlife Service published a proposed rule to remove the boa from the list of endangered species. If the proposal is finalized, the boa will lose all conservation safeguards provided by the Endangered Species Act.

The Service is accepting comments from the public until March 2, 2023, on its proposal to remove federal protections from the boa. Comments may be submitted electronically on the Federal Rulemaking portal, and more information on the process is available on the Federal Register.

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.

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