RAUK - Archived Forum - Serious concerns for Ash Berus

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Serious concerns for Ash Berus:

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Alan Hyde
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Joined: 17 Apr 2003
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Posted: 03 Jun 2003

Just before I went away on holiday I posted a message about some adders that I'd found near where I live. I have returned to this spot on numerous occasions since, and yes , it is a superb area! I have found gravid berus surviving there in very small patches of heather (About 75ft x50ft) surrounded by manicured perfect grass. These snakes are obviously doing well but, I noticed this place is absolutely infested with dog walkers ..and I mean infested!

I 've watched as they walk within inches of where i've found these adders , their woofers bounding around in the heather, they're completely oblivious. I think it's only a matter of time untill I find a culled adder , or hear about somebodys dog being bitten.

Now , what I'd like to know is... do you think it's worth me trying to nip this in the bud before anything happens? By that I mean , I have seen signs up in other areas warning of adders being present , but here there is nothing .

 

I was thinking about politely asking whoever's responsible for the area to put up warning signs , that also state it is an offence to deliberately harm these reptiles .  Do you think i'd be wasting my breath ? Or does the presence of such signs actually make things worse for the snakes by drawing the attention of those that would deliberately harm them?

Alan


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-LAF
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Joined: 03 Apr 2003
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Posted: 03 Jun 2003

It's a good question, almost all the reserves that have decent Adder populations in my native Lincolnshire have warning signs but they are all members only trust reserves. In N. Wales the nature reserve leaflets also state when Adders are likely. As they are not collected I wouldn't think it would be overly bad for the snakes. I can't see anyone intentionally going there just to kill them, and people who might otherwise do so on finding them may be discouraged from doing so by the prospect of a four figure fine, criminal record and (theoretically but woefully unenforced) some time. Would be interesting to hear what other people thought.

Cheers, Lee.


Lee Fairclough
Wolfgang Wuster
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Joined: 23 Apr 2003
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Posted: 03 Jun 2003
I wouldn't recommend advertising their presence. First, there may well be @*******s out there who may feel the need to whack any snake just because it's a snake, or who may feel a calling to protect innocent children and dogs.

Second, if you advertise them, you may find yourself attracting youg teenagers who will try to catch them and mess around with them for kicks or even out of genuine interest - either way, it won't benefit the adders.

A smarter move, which does however depend on the landowner being sympathetic, would be to simply fence off at least the most important heather patches (i.e., the ones with the gravid females), and claim it's for grazer exclusion or to prevent trampling of the vegetation - much less interesting for the average herp-and-thrill-seeking teenager (like you and I used to be... ;-), and thus probably more effective.

Just my thoughts...

Cheers,

Wolfgang
Wolfgang Wüster
School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor
http://sbsweb.bangor.ac.uk/~bss166/
Alan Hyde
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Joined: 17 Apr 2003
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Posted: 03 Jun 2003

Lee- thanks for your thoughts mate.

No, I'm not thinking of collectors , just sicko bored kids . Yep they exist . I know of an occasion when bored kids in the summer hols thought it'd be fun to go out on the common killing snakes . I had a pair of half dead natrix brought to me that had been bashed with sticks for 'fun' . I had to put them down.

I think this generation of children ,(Not all of them) , are less aware of wild creatures and nature due to the fact they spend most of their time indoors on computer games. However , if their attention were drawn to adders ... "I'm Bored", "Yeeeeah, me too" . "I know , lets go over XXXXXXXXXX, there's a sign there that say's there are adders".

"Look! There's one! ... see if you can hit it from here with this brick".

Doesn't happen often fortunately , but one group of sicko kids can kill quite a few snakes in one afternoon.

That's what I consider the downside of signs , what do others think?

Alan


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Alan Hyde
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Joined: 17 Apr 2003
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Posted: 03 Jun 2003

Hey Wolfgang , we were typing at the same time there. Pretty much the same sort of thoughts too .

I like the fencing of suggestion.

Cheers,

Alan


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Mervyn
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Joined: 14 Feb 2003
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Posted: 03 Jun 2003
I am inclined to agree with Wolfgang - i.e. not to put up signs which could attract the wrong sort,  but (if possible) put up a fence to keep the dogs out.



Mervyn J. COTTENDEN, CPA
David Bird
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Joined: 17 Feb 2003
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Posted: 03 Jun 2003
In Dorset we do not put warning signs up as it is thought they would attract the wrong sort of person. We have had members of the public putting their own signs up but when tackled have been found to be very snake unfriendly and their reasons for putting up the signs were very doubtful so they were quickly removed. Fence it all off with a large fence to keep out the members of the public and their defecating dogs, I have a supply of razor wire for the top if you need it (well I can dream can't I ).
British Herpetological Society Librarian and member of B.H.S Conservation Committee. Self employed Herpetological Consultant and Field Worker.
GemmaJF
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Joined: 25 Jan 2003
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Posted: 03 Jun 2003

I'm for the fencing too. Only a few weeks ago I was told how a London site was mentioned to a keen ornithologist. Telling a friend of this exciting knowledge got the reply "shall we go bash them then?"... this was from no teenager. The main reason we have no adders left in London in my opinion is if sites are discovered the habitat is very often destroyed.

Though there is a park in Barnet advertising the local GCN and Slow-worms on nice little signs..  I wonder sometimes.


Gemma Fairchild, Independent Ecological Consultant
Martin
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Joined: 23 Feb 2003
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Posted: 03 Jun 2003

See if you can arrange for big signs something like 'Danger Keep Out Ebola Virus Area and Nuclear Waste Dump Site', that'd keep people out!!

If not then it'll be tricky. Snakes and people and dogs don't mix, whatever happens will have a negative effect upon the adders. Ban dogs would be a good direction.

Other than that, no idea and good luck whatever you do, but do something!

Martin.


Alan Hyde
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Joined: 17 Apr 2003
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Posted: 03 Jun 2003

Thanks for your thoughts folks .

Martin- good idea ! LOL!

This area is very large with many subpopulations. Some are large and unwalked , so no problem there. But there a many smaller areas like the ones I mentioned , and I think fencing them all off would be too labourious for the land owner to consider . Mind you , I could try and get those that are in the most immediate danger fenced off.

Alan


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Tony Phelps
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Joined: 09 Mar 2003
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Posted: 04 Jun 2003

I remember years ago an adder warning sign went up in Ashdown Forest and the result was that people went in mobhanded and caused mayhem. It is true that most people do not realise that the adder is protected and stare in disbelief when you tell them. But there are people, usually of a certain generation who sincerely think that they are performing a public service by killing adders - even her in Swanage, one old gent impales his victims on barbed wire - and this is a country park. He has had his last warning, and it has been a bit delicate because the guy is disabled and I have been accused of bullyboy tactics.

Recently in liaison with the local NT we have erected a fence around a sensitive site, yes to protect SLs and adders, but also to stop erosion of the habitat (it is a very popular site). We have placed a notice simply stating that the area is fence off to allow the habitat to recover. Strangely enough we have had a good response from the public, especially the locals who visit the site often and realise what we are trying to achieve.

It does work if you talk to people, Alan if I was you, and if you have the time, patrol the area as often as you can and speak 'nicely' to people, no matter how tempting it may be to kick their backsides.

Tony Phelps 


j gaughan
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Joined: 04 May 2003
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Posted: 09 Jun 2003

Back in 1996 a few of these signs were removed by the Rangers at Frensham for the same reasons pointed out by David.

I agree with him and all on this one.

John.


Wolfgang Wuster
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Joined: 23 Apr 2003
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Posted: 10 Jun 2003
John,

You need to upload your image to a website to make it visible to the rest of us. Judging from the "Image Location" I get when right-clicking on the image symbol, you tried to link to an image on your C: drive - that doesn't work.

Cheers,

Wolfgang
Wolfgang Wüster
School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor
http://sbsweb.bangor.ac.uk/~bss166/
frogworlduk
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Joined: 19 Aug 2003
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Posted: 19 Aug 2004

hey alan,

although this is a very late comment within this disscusion, i was wondering what the outcome was?? i live in frimley (near ash) and can easily understand about the amount of plonkers that would be hanging around up there.

i'm only 18 and go to merrist wood college in guildford, which is where i do a lot of my reptile stuff. and the amount of times that i have turned up to my tins and found some golfers playing with adders is unbelieveable. how they have managed to find my tins escapes me they are in the furthest  away place from the college. so how ????

but any way what happened in the end?

mark


Alan Hyde
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Joined: 17 Apr 2003
No. of posts: 1416


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Posted: 20 Aug 2004
Hi Mark :¼)

Ha! Tell me about golfers *Al Rolls Eyes* , I used to work on a golf course as a greenkeeper. I caused many problems as I would see a snake and dive off the tractor/buggy into the bushes. I found so many snakes that had been clubbed over the head (normally Grassy's) that I would catch any I saw near the course and move them way back into the heathers. This eventually lost me my job as complaints of 'that dreadfull council estate raised greenkeeper' kept rolling in ;¼)LOL!
As to the Ash Berus, I must be honest I have not been up there much this year as time has not allowed. But as soon as I do have some spare time i'll be there checking it out.

Cheers Mark, Great speaking with you,
Al
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Robert V
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Joined: 06 Aug 2004
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Posted: 20 Aug 2004

 

All, I had a good laugh at the postings on this site, albeit a year late! And there I was thinking to myself that I alone hated braindead dogwalkers and golfers! In Epping Forest, they set their dogs on Adders and G.S, stamp on them, ride their bikes over them and get this, I even have a photo of one with a burnt tail from someone having set light to it!! As their hadn't been any small field/bush fires in that part of the forest since 94, it couldn't have been accidental.

Last year I had an argument with 5 power ranger supre heroes on mountain bikes in ball busting lycra, because they thought it funny to ride back and forth over an adult female G.S. As they rode off laughing they told me to "get a life." Thats what you're dealing with folks. Whatever you do, don't put up any signs saying adders!

Rob  


RobV
j gaughan
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Joined: 04 May 2003
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Posted: 20 Aug 2004
Thanks for those observations Rob

'The times they are a-changing' ' (Bob Dylan, 1963)   _or have they ?

In my opinian, what's needed is a convincing '21st century-style', national education programme to address all this stuff again (afresh)

It was Keith Corbett & Tom Langton, fair play to them, who started the ball rolling . . .

John


dave fixx
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Joined: 13 Mar 2007
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Posted: 07 Aug 2008
I was having fun looking over these old posts,I am trying to make my garden a wildlife zone,ponds refuges etc .Anti cat spraysetc to follow.Recently we sent invites out for my wifes birthday barbq and a couple of friends replied asking if their dogs could come??????.  It was then that I realized a once dog lover has become a not such dog lover,I was horrified by the prospect.In my defence could you imagine their respose  if I asked if I could take a snake to their barb?Sorry if this is a bit off topic just not worthy of a new thread.
Dave Williams
davewilliamsphotography.co.uk

- Serious concerns for Ash Berus

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