ALBANY: In a letter sent to the City of Albany, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Environmental Analyst Angelo Marcuccio detailed the discovery of an Eastern Worm Snake on the site of the proposed hotel in the Pine Bush. Not just near the proposed site, on the site!
Reptiles and amphibians are often considered slimy and scary animals by many people. However, these herps (short for “herpetofauna”, which is the general term for amphibians and reptiles as a group) are extremely important to the viability of ecosystems. Most herp species in New York State are in a state of decline, primarily from loss of habitat. Loss of our herp species is devastating for the environment and devastating for our Pine Bush.
The last time a worm snake was observed in Albany County was in the Pine Bush was near the Karner Blue butterfly hill (and near the proposed hotel site) in the late 1980’s. The snake found this summer is the only worm snake found north of Orange and Putnam counties since the NYS Reptile and Amphibian Atlas was initiated in 1990. The worm snake is native to the Pine Bush. The fact that it has not been observed in the Pine Bush for over 20 years, and now has been found on the proposed site of the hotel is extremely significant.
According to wikipedia, worm snakes are described as being small (about 14” long), and these elusive snakes spend most of their time buried in loose soil or leaf litter. They eat mostly earthworms and sometimes soft-bodied insects. Little is known about their mating habits.
The global picture here is that New York State is losing herps at a serious rate. The local picture is that the Albany Common Council has the opportunity to save the known habitat of a special concern reptile.
What will the Common Council do? Will they say they do not care about the status of reptiles in New York State and allow the North Dakota developer to pave occupied worm snake habitat? Or, will the Common Council do the right thing, and facilitate a land trade between Theraldson and the Harriman Office Campus (that needs a hotel)?
Call or write to your Common Council member today. Tell them you are simply fed up with the City allowing far-away developers to destroy our Pine Bush and its inhabitants!