The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Wednesday it is designating critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act for the northern Mexican gartersnake, which is native to Arizona and New Mexico. The habitat includes more than 20,000 acres, including land along the Colorado River in Mohave and La Paz counties.
The northern Mexican gartersnake was listed as threatened in 2014.
In total, 20,326 acres in La Paz, Mohave, Yavapai, Gila, Cochise, Santa Cruz and Pima counties, Arizona, and Grant County, New Mexico, fall within the boundaries of the critical habitat designation for the northern Mexican gartersnake. The designation is a reduction of approximately 7,458 acres from the 2020 revised proposed critical habitat designation for the gartersnake.
Most of the reduction in acreage resulted from exclusion of lands from critical habitat based on conservation plans that address special management needs of habitat for the species.
The US Fish & Wildlife Service says northern Mexican gartersnake populations have declined because of predatory, non-native species such as bullfrogs, crayfish and sportsfish, which compete with and prey upon both the gartersnakes themselves and their native prey species. Additionally, the region's ongoing drought is believed to be a significant threat for the snake because of a loss of surface water and streamside vegetation.