Minnesota news in brief at 7:58 p.m. CDT

8/30/2014 7:15 PM
By Associated Press

Project tracks Minnesota's snake populations

KELLOGG, Minn. (AP) — A herpetologist for the Minnesota Biological Survey is leading an effort to catalog Minnesota's snake species and figure out how different populations are faring.

Jeff LeClere is tracking a half-dozen species in southeastern Minnesota, a region that has 15 of the state's 17 snake species, Minnesota Public Radio News reported (http://bit.ly/VXYKiIhttp://bit.ly/VXYKiI ). As part of the effort, researchers have surgically implanted transmitters into snakes to track them.

LeClere was recently tracking bullsnakes in a sandy tract of grassland where the Zumbro River empties into the Mississippi. He said bullsnakes are on the decline, but because they are stealthy, it's hard to know how much the population has decreased.

LeClere said a decreased snake population could be due to Minnesota's changing prairie, and the disappearance of snakes can have wider ecological consequences. Snakes are typically considered top predators and consume insects and small mammals such as rats and mice.

With the help of a three-pronged antenna and a radio receiver, LeClere searched for a bullsnake named Porchy.

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9/2/2014 | Last Updated: 11:30 PM