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So What’s Going on with the Snakes on Middle Bass?


by Kristin Stanford


Posted September 3, 2008; Also in the September, 2008 Put-in-Bay Gazette


Ask the Snakelady ~ Kristin Stanford, theislandsnakelady@yahoo.com

So What’s Going on with the Snakes on Middle Bass?

Many people have heard that I have been helping to ensure the safety of the Lake Erie watersnakes within the new Middle Bass marina that is being constructed. A former student of mine, Keith Hanson, has also been assisting with this endeavor. Many people curious about the project have been asking about how many snakes we are catching and where we are relocating the animals. I thought this might be a good time (and place) to let you know how well we’ve done so far!

Since May of this year, myself and Keith have been capturing and relocating LEWS from within the main marina basin to the old Lonz Boathouse on the south side of the island. The marina basin, which has been undergoing renovation since this spring, had a 3 ½ ft. tall snake exclusion fence erected to help keep snakes out and the relocated snakes from getting back in.

The good news is when they are able to keep the fence upright and intact, the barrier has worked quite well.  However, maintaining 2875 linear feet of silt fence has proved to be quite a challenge. Huffman Contracting employee and Middle Bass resident, Dave Scherf, has been trying to maintain the fence with assistance from myself and Keith, who walk it daily to inspect for problem areas. In June, several weeks of strong rain caused some severe wash outs and holes were being chewed in the bottom of the fence daily by raccoons and muskrats. Dave kept up with the repairs as best as he could but unfortunately some snakes did get back into the basin. As of mid-August, there have been 227 individual Lake Erie watersnakes that have been removed from the marina basin area. Of those 227, 198 of them were adult animals. So far, 50 snakes have been relocated twice, 21 have been relocated three times and four snakes have had to be relocated four separate times. Talk about stubborn!

Keith and I have also removed several other species of snakes from the basin including 95 garter snakes, 27 Northern brown snakes, and over 40 Fox snakes.

In addition to watching for holes in the snake fence, we have also been checking several box traps that have been placed along the inside of the fence in order to help capture snakes. The traps have done a decent job in capturing several species of snakes including LEWS, Fox and garter snakes. The “snake” traps have also helped remove several other animals from the construction area including field mice, rabbits, painted turtles, bullfrogs, greenfrogs, salamanders, robins, red-winged black birds and many terrestrial crayfish! Most surprisingly, one eastern milk snake was also found within one of the traps. This species has never been recorded for Middle Bass and is thought to have hitched a free ride on a piece of equipment the contractor brought over to the island from Cleveland.

The timeline for the marina basin completion is still set for this fall. Until then, Keith and I will continue to work with Huffman and ODNR to assist in the removal and relocation of snakes within the project area.





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