The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has issued an incidental take notice for an endangered snake species in Racine. Workers are currently replacing existing historic structures on a bridge, as well as upgrading the roadways.
Incidental take refers to the unintentional taking, or loss of individual animals or plants which are classified as endangered or threatened species. The DNR offers the public a period to comment on the proposed activity for the public review and public comment before final approval of the project.
In this case, the queensnake (regina septemvittata) has been confirmed as having populations in and around the construction site. “Department staff concluded that the proposed project will minimize the impacts to the species by adhering to conservation measures and is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence and recovery of the state population of the species,” a DNR press release reads.
Queensnakes prefer areas near warm-water streams and small rivers. The species eats crayfish and needs theseenvironments to follow prey items. Over winter, the snakes will wait out the harsh months in crayfish burrows, but also will dwell in cracked bridges, old dams, and seawalls. Most active from April through October, the species breeds from mid-May to mid-June. So we just missed its breeding cycle.
Nevertheless, the project poses risks to the queensnakes known to live around the Racine bridge project. Queensnakes are concentrated over eight southeastern Wisconsin counties. Although the species is listed as endangered by the state, it does not have a federal status.