Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Bicycles also threat to herps on roads - via Herp Digest

Closed roads and quite pathways often attract herpetofauna that bask or forage along these ecological edges.
A study I participated in at a provincial park, found that hundreds of snakes were killed on the main park road by vehicles during the off-season (when the park had few visitors). 
This prompted park management to close the road to vehicles during the offseason; however, several snakes were still found dead on the road during the road closure period due to bicycle hits. 
The buildup of fallen leaves on the road coupled with the warm surface temperature of the road made it an ideal basking spot for snakes in the Fall. 
Unfortunately, the snakes would have been very difficult for cyclists to detect given the amount of leaf cover on the road.
I've walked this road in subsequent years and have noticed that the majority of snakes tended to remain motionless when approached (even when right underfoot), in order to stay camouflaged beneath the leaves. 
It actually took great effort to walk along the road and avoid stepping on these hidden snakes; therefore, cyclists would have extremely limited chance for avoidance.
I have cc'ed Scott Gillingwater in case he has further info to provide regarding this study.
On another note, I often observe dead anurans along recreational pathways that have obviously been hit by bicycles.
Teresa Piraino/Wildlife Biologist
PirainoT@mmm.ca | www.mmm.ca

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