A Different Point Of View: Ontario's Fox Snake Restoration Program
The following commentary presents a different, but familiar point of view, regarding taxes spent on conservation projects. This view point is always interesting to me because it is so different than mine. Be sure to follow the link at the bottom and read the comments, some are interesting. Some background: The Eastern Fox Snake (Pantherophis gloydi) is considered threatened provincially and nationally in Canada. It is thought to have declined in Ontario as wetlands were drained and shorelines were developed for cottages. It is protected under Ontario's 2007 Endangered Species Act but it is also protected in two National Parks, and 16 Provincial Parks and Nature Reserves. In Ontario, this species is also protected under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act.
Vander Doelen: Millions spent on snake housing
By Chris Vander Doelen, Windsor StarDecember 21, 2010
Did you know that the endangered eastern fox snake can climb like a monkey?
not exactly like a monkey. Although rather talented for a snake, the
eastern fox is a little short on fingers. But the remarkable fact that a
two-metre-long snake native to Canada can climb at all means that the
new Windsor-Essex Parkway, when completed, will be protected on both
sides by more than 22 kilometres of snake-proof fencing.
fence will be nearly two metres tall itself, and its bottom edge will
be buried two feet deep because the wily fox snake burrows even better
than it climbs.
The fences will be there entirely for the
protection of the snake, however, rather than squeamish drivers who
might be creeped out by seeing such a large reptile sunning itself on
the road, as they like to do.
The plan is to prevent the
handsome spotted devils from straying onto the six-lanes of concrete
pavement, where they would become snake pizza.
eastern fox snake and other seldom-seen species of flora and fauna
along the 11-kilometre route of the new parkway will account for a
significant chunk of the $2.2 billion Ontario intends to spend to build
and maintain the highway over the next 30 years.
News of the
snake-proof fence was among the project details revealed last week by
provincial bureaucrats who've been planning the international highway
link for the last five years. In addition to the fences, accredited
herpetologists have been seconded to the project from other ministries,
or hired on as consultants.
There won't be any full-time snake
wranglers on site during construction, per say. But enough
snake-spotting training will be provided for all the staff -- from
supervisors to heavy equipment operators -- that by the end of the
three years of work the province will be able to boast truthfully that
no snakes were carelessly harmed during the building of the project.
don't think they won't boast. If there's one thing we know for certain
about Premier Dalton McGuinty's Liberals is that they define
themselves by their green credentials, no matter how much they cost
Officials sent to Windsor to release further details
of the project last week weren't able to provide us with estimates of
the environmental protection costs embedded in the project, but they
are certain to run into millions. Perhaps tens of millions.
can't kill anything," says Fausto Natarelli, the senior Ministry of
Transportation official running the project. "We're going to
extraordinary measures because it's the right thing to do."
nature lover myself -- including the half dozen snake species which
share our woodlot near Harrow -- I'm glad the province is spending my
money to avoid unnecessarily killing these creatures.
little less convinced of the need to protect five species of so-called
"endangered" wildflowers and trees which have been identified along the
These plants are rare only in Canada.
Utterly common in warmer U.S. climes, their survival as a species
wouldn't be threatened by the parkway project even if every one of them
was buried under a metre of concrete.
they've already started marking some of them for relocation, if you've
noticed all the pretty pink tape dotting the ditches along Talbot
By next summer, hundreds of plants will have been
transplanted to the parks and nature reserves which dot the west end of
The species involved include the fabulous dense
blazing star, a one-metre-tall perennial weed of dazzling purple
magnificence which I intend to find for our own gardens, now that I
know what it looks like.Other species to be relocated include
the colic root (sometimes called the wild native yam), and the Kentucky
coffee tree, a large hardwood with a deep tap root which will be tough
to move unless they find small specimens.
They have until the
fall of 2011 to find new homes for the "dislocated" species. Although
design work is well underway, little of the three million cubic metres
of dirt which has to be moved for the project will be disturbed until
late next summer at the earliest, officials say.
biologists will recreate "hibernacula," or winter hibernation burrows,
in nearby nature reserves for the 100-odd eastern fox snakes known to
occupy the site.
You heard that right. In McGuinty's Ontario, we
even build government housing for snakes. Maybe it's best I don't know
how much of our money they're spending. I'm already irked enough by the