15 snakes, North America's longest, released in North Florida

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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and its numerous partners have teamed up to release 15 eastern indigo snakes at The Nature Conservancy's Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve in Bristol, Florida.

The non-venomous snake is the longest snake native to North America at over 8 feet long.  The Endangered Species Act lists the eastern indigo as a threatened species due to loss of habitat and fragmentation. In fact, the snake was last seen in 1982 before the release program began. 

This is the third release of a 10-year commitment to the snake’s recovery, started in 2017.

Wildlife officals say they snakes are important to their native, the southern longleaf pine forest. The eastern indigo's role is to provide balance to the wildlife, feeding on many small animals. 

The 15 snakes released Tuesday are roughly 2 years old, after being bred by the Central Florida Zoo’s Orianne Center for Indigo Conservation. Auburn University’s Natural Heritage Program has also been on site monitoring the released snakes and helping to continue to rebuild their environment. 

Moving forwards, the FWC and others involved hope to continue more releases and eventually find evidence of reproduction by the snakes.