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SAVING THE Alameda Whipsnake

The Alameda whipsnake, also called the Alameda striped racer, features sporty yellow racing stripes and exceptional speed, but it hasn’t been able to outrace rapid urban sprawl in its coastal scrub, chaparral, and grassland habitats in the hills east of the San Francisco Bay. Development and road construction have fragmented the whipsnake’s originally continuous range into five declining populations.

The Center teamed up with Christians Caring for Creation to protect this endangered serpent, initially securing a designation of more than 400,000 acres of critical habitat for the species. Though the Center subsequently fought off building-industry attempts to eliminate much of this habitat protection, in 2005 the Bush administration cut the protected areas by more than 60 percent under the direction of disgraced former Interior Department official Julie MacDonald. In August 2007, the Center fought back by submitting a notice of intent to sue the Bush Administration over the whipsnake’s critical habitat designation and 54 other illegal Endangered Species Act decisions. We’ve also taken on numerous urban sprawl development projects in the San Francisco Bay Area to ensure that these rare snakes aren’t chased out of their few remaining refuges.

Rodenticides, burrow fumigants, herbicides, and pesticides that may harm the Alameda whipsnake directly — or indirectly, through prey reduction or habitat alteration — are used in and near critical habitat for the whipsnake in the East Bay. The Center is challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s registration and authorization-for-use of 46 toxic pesticides in habitats for San Francisco Bay Area endangered species, and we continue to monitor and oppose harmful chemical pesticide use in California through our Pesticides Reduction Campaign.

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KEY DOCUMENTS
2013 letter against Oakland Zoo harming the snake through an Oakland Zoo expansion
2013 analysis of the zoo expansion's effect on the snake
2007 Notice of intent to sue
2006 Critical habitat designation
2006 Center report: Poisoning Our Imperiled Wildlife
2005 Center comments on critical habitat reduction
2003 Draft recovery plan
1997 Federal Endangered Species Act listing

ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT PROFILE

ACTION TIMELINE

NATURAL HISTORY

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RELATED ISSUES
Pesticides Reduction
The Endangered Species Act

Contact: Jeff Miller

Photo © Gary A. Beeman