Scientists dispute snake release in Florida 'Garden of Eden'

Some conservationists say the wrong kind of serpent has been released into a Florida preserve known locally as "the original Garden of Eden," but others say there's no problem.

A dozen Eastern indigo snakes were released recently in The Nature Conservancy's Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve in Florida's Panhandle. Conservationists aim to reintroduce the non-venomous, federally threatened snakes into restored habitat.

The Tallahassee Democrat report s the Coastal Plains Institute and Land Conservancy wants those snakes removed. Executive Director Bruce Means says Gulf Coast indigo snakes should have been released instead. Means says data confirm the snakes are genetically different species.

Nature Conservancy North Florida Program Manager David Printiss said that data was reviewed before the snakes' release, and researchers decided it "did not warrant splitting the indigos into two species."

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Information from: Tallahassee (Fla.) Democrat, http://www.tdo.com