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Stock Island Tree Snail Notice

Misha D. McRAE

February 13, 2013

I was contacted via phone conversation on Thursday, February 7, 2013 by Winston Hobgood, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Vero Beach, FL, that the Florida Keys Electric Cooperative in the upper keys had reported finding a colony of endangered Stock Island Tree Snails in an abandoned area of I904 to be determined not previously reported or their native habitat and were looking for a permanent resident for them. He said he had been aware of the KW Botanical Garden status of once being the last refuge for the snails and wanted to know if we would take them. I responded with a yes but I would have to get Committee Approval within the Botanical Garden before this could happen. I immediately sent an email out to Board President Mary Chandler for the collection committee, including Board Member Nancy Griffin who has had history with me on this topic for a number of years. Upon receiving approval from Mary, I called and followed up with an e-mail to Winston that we would take the snails for relocation.

The next day, Ms. Sara Hamilton from the Florida Keys Electric Cooperative contacted me that she could deliver the snails the early part of the following week.

On Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 1:15 PM, Sara Hamilton, her P.R. Assistance Nikki Dunn and the Mike Hent and Timothy O’Hara from the Citizen met Emily Sipe and me at the Visitor Center for an introduction, history of the situation and relocation of the snails. Ms. Hamilton and her crew routinely inspect and trim the electric lines in the upper keys this time of year and that day the colony was discovered. She speculated the snails had been abandoned by someone because they were never documented in that area before and the habitat was not indicative to support the colony. Because of this fundamental issue, the colony could not be located deeper into the area as is normal procedure but had to be relocated. After a tour of the garden and know sites of the tree snails, 3 sections of the garden were decided to be release sections that included; the Western Loop, Desbiens Pond and the back 40.

Ms. Hamilton presented a large cooler and 2 buckets containing 79 snails of various size and activity. The group was instructed on how to handle and release the snails. About 20 – 25 snails were active and approved for release. They were taken to the Western Loop at the points decided prime habitat for release. 2 groups were released and documented.

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