Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Frogs, snakes & turtles need our help

Before you say you’re not disappointed that frogs, turtles, snakes and other herps, as they’re called, are in trouble, read on.
They may be among the most misunderstood of species; most are not nearly as dangerous as people fear them to be. In fact, they are beneficial in the chain of
life, eating insects, rodents and other pests. But they are in
decline in the United States and worldwide, largely because of the loss or degradation of habitat.
Amphibians have been dubbed the aquatic “canary of the coal mine” because they reveal the subtle declines in environmental health.
There are specific habitat needs of different species of amphibians and reptiles, and you could help those species with specific habitats. But generally, you can
help herp habitat by improving habitat for wildlife in general.
Some of the steps that help most wildlife species, including herps, are:

1) Keep or establish natural vegetation along ponds, streams, wetlands, crop fields and wherever else possible to protect the land and provide food and cover for wildlife.
2) Large habitat areas are more valuable to herps than a series of small areas. Try to keep from “fragmenting” large areas.
3) Establish well-vegetated corridors to connect patches of habitat, so herps can travel from one to another with protection.
4) Protect and restore wetlands, including seasonal wetlands, some of the most important habitat to amphibians.
5) Establish buffer zones with native vegetation around wetlands.
6) Leave logs, snags, and other woody debris.
7) Leave protective vegetation 50-75 feet wide along streams, to guard against
streambank erosion and to provide cover for many herps.
8) Keep cattle out of streams.
9) Manage forestland for a diversity of plant habitat with understory.
10) Use selective spot spraying or wick application if herbicides are applied near waterways. Avoid them if you can.

Did you
Snakes can go for months
without eating. Many turtles
live for more than 50
years. And, some frogs can
survive being frozen for
long periods of time. The
world of herptiles--
amphibians and reptiles-- is
a fascinating one.

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