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 Post subject: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: October 12th, 2010, 11:34 am 
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Joined: June 27th, 2010, 9:07 am
Posts: 134
Location: Madelia, Minnesota
I've been holding off on bringing up this subject, since I've been told that "anti-snake" people regularly patrol this site and would just love to find a new way to wipe the planet clean of snakes, but I've been advised to post these pics and info in hopes that a solution might eventually be worked out.

In May, 2009 a fellow field colleague sent me photos of several Fox Snakes he'd found strangled to death in a fairly small amount of nylon mesh netting used for erosion control. I joined him the next day and we both found dead and live Fox Snakes entangled in the mesh. The still living snakes were carefully cut loose and released. The county hiway dept. was contacted and well, to make a long story short, within a week they agreed to let us remove the netting!

(Happy ending...until last week)

In May, 2010, I was horrified to see a new bike trail was being plowed thru some prime snake habitat. It came very close to a rock outcrop hibernacula, but when I saw that the bike trail was going over only a small portion of the outcrop, I relaxed a little and thought the worst had passed. All summer, during its construction, I could see them putting in what appeared to be fairly small portions of the nylon mesh (so I thought) and kept reminding myself I should probably go check it out when the trail was completed. 4 days after its grand opening, I finally got out there to check it out, and was absolutley stunned to see this:

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All of the slivery gray area in these photos is nylon mesh netting. On both sides of the trail !!

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This is newly exposed bedrock, and hopefully future denning sites in the side of the hill.

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However...they covered the entire remaining rock outcrop with this stuff.

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I counted a total of 9 dead Fox Snakes (2 live ones rescued) and 4 dead adult female Garter Snakes (with one live one rescued) The next day I went out I brought along red flags and marked the location of each dead one I found.

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The old den sites were located along the hiway to the left. (Photo below) All snakes were found on the right side of the trail, indicating they were on their way from the wooded river bottoms to the old hibernacula.

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I found a hole in the netting and stuck the camera inside for a snakes-eye view.

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On that first day, within 2 minutes upon arriving at the scene, I found this: A still live adult female Garter Snake.

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Ever since May 2009, a sharp tiny needlenose scissors is with me at all times. I carefully cut this one loose and you can see the damage done in only a few minutes of being trapped.

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I carried this one way off into the woods and realesed her in the shade, and altho she moved slowly, she eventually crawled away.

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I soon noticed another large Garter at the edge of the trail. If the mesh netting is packed down flat, they can slide right over the top of it. Its when they try and dig down thru the squares they get caught. I saw a smaller Garter slide thru the net with no problem.

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And now, 8 ghastly images of what this stuff can do:

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(I've been trying to update these photos... And it was going well but it seems as if nothing more than image # 25 will show up. Hope this is a temporary glitch. Will keep checking in and try to fix it and add the rest of the photos soon)

I found 2 Fox Snakes that were still moving.

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I actually had to cut into the skin a couple times to get them out.

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Along with the lacerations, this one had several broken ribs from twisting and turning around trying to get loose.

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I managed to save only 2 young adult females. And as they both could barely move upon being freed from the netting, I decided to bring them home with me. I set them up in a temporary enclosure and offered them a drink. As you can see, one of them was so weak and dehydrated, she didn't even bother to right herself until she had a good long drink.

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As soon as I dipped their chins into the water bowl, they both immediately began drinking and continued non-stop for at least 10 minutes!

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The next day I set them up in a nice big enclosure and within a day or two, they both had recovered surprizingly fast. You can still see the scars and scratches, but they've been basking under the light and as soon as the outside temps cool down a bit more, the whole enclosure will be placed down onto the basement floor and covered up with a towel to block out the light. Basement temps here will soon be a steady 45-50 degrees.

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We'll see what conditions are like next spring. I intend to release them back near where they were found, but something will have to be done about that netting first. I have a feeling I just adopted 2 long term captives! Not a bad thing I guess because I needed a Fox Snake for my snake talks anyway.

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On that first day while I was on my way out of the area, a county maintenance truck came driving up the trail. I recognized it was the same guy I talked too last spring when the project had just begun. I told him the mesh netting was becoming a snake death trap and he immediately recalled the same problem out at the other site in spring 2009. I told him I would be contacting the Minn DNR about it and he gave me the name and number of the supervisor in charge.

He was very polite and thanked me for being concerned and bringing it to his attention. He also told me the netting was biodegradable and was designed to break down "in about a year or so." (???)

I truly do believe the powers in charge around here don't want the snakes to be killed by this stuff, however, another horrible reality about this half inch mesh netting is: It Works!!! (For erosion control anyway) The project was completed before the 10-14 inches of rain that fell a couple weeks ago, and if this netting wasn't put down in such huge quantities, the entire length of the trail would have been buried in mud several feet deep!

These photos were sent to the DNR and I've been informed that the contacts will be made and the problem will be addressed.

I believe there is no way they are going to remove the huge amount of netting at this site. (There's just too much of it) There are a few other herpetologists in the area that will be monitoring this situation. Best we can hope for is to be allowed to cut open the areas next spring where future den sites might be used, and to continue to see if any more snakes fall victim to this latest bio-tragedy. And also to see if it really does magically disappear in only a year or so!

Since I sent out these photos last weekend, I've been hearing reports of snakes being found strangled to death all over the country! I'm just wondering if this isn't one of the many reasons why snake populations are "mysteriously" disappearing, and what, if anything, can be done to stop it in the future.


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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: October 12th, 2010, 12:55 pm 
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Location: Pennsylvania- Bucks Co. near Phila.
This poor black rat snake suffered with the nylon so long it wore into it's skin.

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We performed "field surgery" to cut the netting, but left it in it's skin to come off with it's next shed. This snake was one of the lucky ones I suppose.


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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: October 12th, 2010, 12:58 pm 
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kyle loucks wrote:
We performed "field surgery" to cut the netting, but left it in it's skin to come off with it's next shed. This snake was one of the lucky ones I suppose.


Are you sure that would come of with a shed? It looks tight.


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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: October 12th, 2010, 1:04 pm 
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Location: Pennsylvania- Bucks Co. near Phila.
it was all the way around the animals head on bottom jaw but not enough where it wasn't eating. we cut it free. The netting was so deep we though that we would cause more damage by ripping the nylon out. It did not appear to be through the epidermis.


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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: October 12th, 2010, 1:10 pm 
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Location: Minnesota
TJ- While I am not a nylon mesh expert, a large pipeline was passed through my g-ma's property about 10 years ago (Nicollet Co. MN). The plastic mesh can still be found if I dig through the leaf litter (so it has lasted a LONG time). On a related note, I have only seen 1 snake on my g-ma's property since the construction and I used to find 3 species in abundance there.

Here are a couple related photos from this spring.

Fox snake stuck in mesh (MN)-
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Luckily this fella was doing 'OK'. After a quick drink it was back on its way.

-Chris

P.s. This stuff should be outlawed. It also kills birds and small mammals.....


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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: October 12th, 2010, 1:12 pm 
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TeeJay, thanks for being proactive in documenting the problem and reporting it to DNR. Perhaps they will consider using an alternative errosion control method in future projects in areas where snakes might be abundant because of your efforts.


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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: October 12th, 2010, 1:23 pm 
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that is terrible! thank you so much for stepping up and doing something about it!
josh


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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: October 12th, 2010, 4:30 pm 
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That's crazy! We had a similar thing happen here with a bullsnake. During one of our NMHS meetings some people brought it in and Bob was able to free it and they let it go in their yard and removed the mesh. While on a whale watch in Hawaii, we rescued a sea turtle caught in fishing line. It did some serious damage and the flipper had to be amputated, I can only imagine what full on mesh would do!
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Josh


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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: October 12th, 2010, 4:52 pm 

Joined: September 3rd, 2010, 9:18 am
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Location: Northern Illinois
Thank you for posting this and bringing it to my attention! I had no idea that this method of erosion control had such a negative impact! I applaud you for taking such a proactive approach, and will be mimicking your method in the future when I see problems like this happening in my area.

Loren


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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: October 12th, 2010, 5:12 pm 

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Location: St Louis, MO / Hartford, CT
I've been fortunate to not have any first hand experience with this, but if I can find any you can bet I'll be checking the "snake trap" regularly for some easy finds lol It's certainly unfortunate, both that this stuff is trapping snakes and that the closest the average person wants to get to nature is a paved trail.


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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: October 12th, 2010, 6:57 pm 
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Great job documenting all of the animals you've found, certainly makes for a compelling report. It is very relieving to hear that the maintenance employee was actually receptive to what you had to say and seemingly willing to help make changes. Here in Maryland I have noticed similar problems with the small netting people put over flower beds to prevent deer browse. Last year I found 2 alive black racers trapped in one, along with another two sets of snake skeletons. We also have green mesh netting used for erosion control in stormwater retention ponds that I have found dead American toads in, though I can't say for sure that was the source of mortality.

Kyle, when I say the title of this thread I also thought of the same black ratsnake:
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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: October 12th, 2010, 11:03 pm 

Joined: July 2nd, 2010, 5:48 pm
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Location: AZ.
You did a wonderful job of documenting an increasingly common event. The folks who did this, no doubt contracted by DNR had no intention to kill snakes, but they are probably oblivious to the threat. DNR probably had to file an Environmental Impact Statement to make this pathway, and did it mention the probability of destroying dozens or hundreds of small reptiles and other verterbrates? Not likely...

It is great you made them aware, and maybe with gentle pushing you can get it changed. There must be other less lethal ways to do erosion control, i.e. sisal or soft fabric type mesh rather than plastic which makes ligature like gill nets fatal or disfiguring to reptiles and birds getting trapped under it. There is no excuse for this on a public works project, I really encourage you and applaud you for making them and us aware of it. I have seen similar, on smaller scale in state parks and other "protected" areas, the masses just don't know what this stuff will do. I formerly used it myself in the garden, and it quickly ensnared and maimed or killed Pituophis Crotalus and even Sceloporus. I recall someone posting photos of Lampropeltis in Florida, ensnared in the similar netting under carpet...bad stuff, and people need to be educated. Yes, I quit using it once I saw what could happen.

That agency no doubt will have biologist/ecologists who will be sympathetic to your cause, I urge you to contact them and they can change policies from within. One year and it degrades...well that is unacceptable if it kills most of the animals seeking a hibernaculum...

good luck, Vic Imperial Valley, CA.


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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: October 13th, 2010, 5:13 am 
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Follow-up question: Has anyone found a mammal trapped in mesh before? I guarantee that would tug on their heartstrings quite a bit more than snakes.


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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: October 13th, 2010, 7:06 am 
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Matt J wrote:
Follow-up question: Has anyone found a mammal trapped in mesh before? I guarantee that would tug on their heartstrings quite a bit more than snakes.


I have not personally, but I know mammalogists and ornithologist that say the mesh traps mammals and birds.

-Chris


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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: October 13th, 2010, 10:05 am 
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Also turtles... For some reason the general public tends to have a favorable opinion of turtles compared to other herps, so if you find one trapped in the mesh, people would pay more attention to that. Thanks for your efforts in saving these reptiles! Is there any other type of material they could use to stop erosion but not trap herps?


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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: October 13th, 2010, 12:00 pm 

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:( That's really awful. Good on ya for freeing them and trying to get the mesh removed. Are there alternatives that are viable as erosion control? I've seen netting but never with dead stuff in it before (but then, I don't see *that* much of it either.


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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: October 15th, 2010, 9:53 am 
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What a shame.... sucks to see any kind of animal come to its end that way.

Very glad to see you rescued those snakes.... but somethings gotta change, thats just wrong. Around my area.... I see them use one that looks a whole lot more natural (biodegradable) and the openings are large enough so that only a big python could get caught in it.

Thanks for posting this... sad to see but its good to let people know this is happening.

Richard


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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: October 15th, 2010, 3:27 pm 
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I do a lot of erosion control work, and we use jute netting. It's gone in a years time and is soft with the webbing flexible. It would need to be a python to get stuck in it. the nylon photodegrades over time but when it becomes covered with leaves and detritus it'll last forever. :(

I'm glad you contacted the dnr, hopefully the take some course of action.


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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: October 17th, 2010, 9:06 am 
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Location: Madelia, Minnesota
Here's an update on the situation: I went back out to the area 2 more times since I posted this and have found no more trapped snakes. A fellow colleague did find an additional dead Fox snake that I missed, bringing the total to 10.

The DNR has contacted the county supervisor and they are working out a solution to the problem. The county says they will greatly reduce the use of the nylon mesh netting in the future, and I'm sure they will use something more environmentally friendly than nylon once they become aware of it.

(Pete, great to hear about the flexible jute netting. Could you send me more info on that?)

I'm sure the remaining netting will be allowed to be modified so it will be less of a threat during the spring emergence, ie., cutting open the portions over the newly exposed outcrop and tacking down securely any loose folds. I've already noticed that the grass root system has filled in much of the nylon squares so that it is nearly impenetrable for a snake to poke its nose into. Its really just the loose folds that are causing the trouble.

The county is being very cooperative about this. Figures: these guys work outdoors and appreciate the natural environment too. And I'm continually surprized at how much a great many locals actually know the difference between a Bullsnake and a Fox snake !!! And the old "kill a snake on sight" thing is, I'm glad to report, becoming ever increasingly rare, at least around here in southern Minnesota.

AND...last time I was out there I realized that at the very top of the hill, there was NO netting put down for a good long portion directly adjacent to the main rock outcrop use as hibernacula. So it looks like a good number of snakes didn't even come close to the netting and made it to their wintering den sites. (Don't know how I missed that the first time! ???) So that helped.

I'll keep checking out this site until the snakes stop moving, and will be right back out there next spring to continue to monitor the situation.

The two Fox snakes I rescued are doing great! Their heat lights are off now and they'll be placed down into the cool room this evening.

Thanks to everyone for the kind words of support and tremendous response to this. We do what we can. Hopefully by bringing this problem to light, a solution will be found. Thanks again. TeeJay.


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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: October 18th, 2010, 9:36 am 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:22 pm
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very nice job getting this issue out to the people doing it. sometimes just educating them can really do a lot of good.

but in this day and age of environmental friendly every thing. why do people still put up stuff like that.

oh by the way, your next subject could be.
herbicide spraying along road sides


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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: October 27th, 2010, 7:09 am 
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pete wrote:
I do a lot of erosion control work, and we use jute netting. It's gone in a years time and is soft with the webbing flexible. It would need to be a python to get stuck in it. the nylon photodegrades over time but when it becomes covered with leaves and detritus it'll last forever. :(

I'm glad you contacted the dnr, hopefully the take some course of action.



Thanks for bringing this up Pete... I thought it was Jute and your right on the nylon. I bought my house over 6 years ago, and the people before selling it put in some new sod. Over the years wherever any areas would dry out I would see some of that nylon netting.

After reading this thread... I removed any visible netting coming though... it is still extremely tough, tough enough to cut up my hands when I was ripping it out.

Awesome job TeeJay


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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: October 28th, 2010, 8:47 am 
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Location: Madelia, Minnesota
OK...Here's the latest: (This is the message I sent to the Minn DNR last Tuesday morning)


On my way home yesterday, I discovered yet another area that had been worked over and I saw more erosion control netting had been put down.

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Bracing myself to observe more carnage, I began searching for strangled snakes but soon realized this material was NOT nylon but instead, the jute (?) fabric variety that was mentioned by "Pete" in Field Herp Forum.

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Not only was this stuff extremely flexible when new, I found I could easily rip it open with just my little finger. (It had already begun to break down and decompose in only 6 months time)

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So here it is: The Solution! As you can see in the very last closeup photo, the strings are not attached but simply looped together, thus giving it extreme flexibility. The largest Bullsnake in the state would still be able to wiggle through this stuff alright!

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This area is just a mile west of the new bike trail. A few years ago a sinkhole appeared that swallowed the entire road and left a huge gaping hole leading nearly all the way down to the Earth's core!!! (Well, seemed like it at the time) And it took quite the effort to finally fill it in. Last spring (or sometime early summer) they finished the landscaping and came up with this rather unique erosion control design. So it would appear that the county is already familiar with this material and it must be a matter of cost and availability whether to use fabric or nylon. TJ.


Wednesday morning I got a call from the DNR and was informed that the county workers actually HATE working with the nylon mesh, as it often gets tangled up in the machinery and is a royal pain (literally!) to deal with.

Later on in the afternoon I got a message from an old college buddy/ environmental activist/ conspiracy theorist/ friend of mine who had a very interesting theory on how the nylon mesh netting finds its way into the whole scenario:

"TJ...Great News regarding Jute!!!...fyi, the folks who work with this (mesh) stuff probably know the difference in materials used...but the inclusion of nylon (as an option) is probably nothing more than the (effective oil co.) "lobby" to include (their) product in the (state) bidding process (i.e. can then drop-their-drawers on $$ to win said bids) ...stop the (nylon/lobby) madness- now, I says!!!" S.L.

Something to think about, huh?!!! ...TeeJay.


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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: November 9th, 2010, 4:44 pm 
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Location: Wittmann,AZ
TeeJay

Thanks for keeping up on this stuff. But I would suggest you not interject the "oil conspiracy" into any "public" discussions to solve this problem. A wise man once told me "Better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."

Keep us posted on how this develops in your area. I'll keep my eyes open for the same issue here in AZ. I know I have the same netting in my sod. It does suck...

Dave


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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: November 17th, 2010, 5:22 pm 
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it seems odd to me that it biodegrades there was mention of photodegridation, and that seems most likely. plants grow pretty quick. this blockage of the UV light will ensure a long life for the nylon.

let's face it, if it is cheap, they will use it.

possible solution if the problem persists- multiple layers with larger holes. it may allow snakes to get through. maybe manufacturers care. i bet they might if the media is informed. :) :) :)

thanks for the heads-up. i will definitely keep a lookout in my area.

i'm sure i speak for all. keep us posted in regards to how the spring turns out.

-ben


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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: November 23rd, 2010, 7:07 pm 
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Sounds like a job for the Monkey Wrench Gang...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Monkey_Wrench_Gang


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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: November 25th, 2010, 6:36 am 
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Brian Hubbs wrote:
Sounds like a job for the Monkey Wrench Gang...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Monkey_Wrench_Gang


Long live Hayduke!

-Chris


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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: November 25th, 2010, 9:17 am 
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Location: Madelia, Minnesota
You know...I just realized I never got around to reading that old classic, altho the '85 version with R. Crumb illustrations might just have to be on this years Santas wish list.

Actually...we are coordinating with the county road supervisor, and with the help of several volunteers and the Minn DNR, we are planning go back there next spring before emergence and at least remove the netting thats hanging over the outcrop. Will probably just cut the top portion and tightly roll it up and securely fasten it down so no loose folds will entangle any more snakes. (Then will continue to closely monitor this area)

This story is far from over. There will certainly be an update and more photos next spring!


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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: December 16th, 2010, 10:57 am 

Joined: June 11th, 2010, 7:49 am
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That is REALLY nasty stuff! I commend you on your efforts in freeing snakes and bringing the problem to the attention of the county but what we need are affordable ideas to replace this netting for erosion control.


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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: August 29th, 2011, 1:40 pm 
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Location: Pacific Northwest
After reading this thread, I can't believe they are even considering this new project and yet will threaten and harass people for "disturbing" endangered snakes by stopping to take photos of them. Read this. Write in. Tell these people that this project they are planning is not acceptable.

http://www.frugal-cafe.com/public_html/ ... t-problem/


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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: February 22nd, 2017, 11:25 am 
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Joined: June 10th, 2010, 8:49 pm
Posts: 1146
I googled "snakes tangled in erosion netting" and this post was the top hit. That is awesome. These pictures do a great job of documenting the risk of the mesh to snakes.

In case anyone needs peer reviewed references here are three:

Stuart, J. N., M. L. Watson, T. L. Brown, and C. Eustice. 2001. Plastic Netting: An Entanglement Hazard to Snakes and other Wildlife. Herpetological Review 32:162-164.

KAPFER, J. M., and R. A. PALOSKI. 2011. ON THE THREAT TO SNAKES OF MESH DEPLOYED FOR EROSION CONTROL AND WILDLIFE EXCLUSION. Herpetological Conservation and Biology 6:1-9.

Barton, C., and K. Kinkead. 2005. Do Erosion Control and Snakes Mesh? Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 60:33-35.


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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: February 22nd, 2017, 11:30 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 8:56 pm
Posts: 294
Location: SW USA
I saw this early in my career, it's really a horror show and a sign of poor engineering and project planning, not to mention a complete lack of common sense. I hope you have contacted your local news/media and work your local wildlife orgs to get this stopped. You are finding the snakes that are not being scavenged upon and I suspect the mortality numbers are much higher than what you are seeing. Have you found any other wildlife trapped?

There are innumerable ways to control erosion but that netting is not one of them.

Good on you for caring.


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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: February 23rd, 2017, 6:31 am 

Joined: September 22nd, 2012, 5:13 pm
Posts: 440
I acknowledge that it's an old thread but no doubt an ongoing problem, good job to all who have stepped up and increased the awareness about this issue!


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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: February 26th, 2017, 2:01 pm 

Joined: February 5th, 2013, 9:05 am
Posts: 24
Location: Central New Mexico
Yes, I used to use this mesh netting on my fruit trees and koi pond in the winter. It trapped lots of birds and a couple of really nice Bull Snakes, I quit using it.


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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: September 25th, 2017, 8:10 am 
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Joined: June 27th, 2010, 9:07 am
Posts: 134
Location: Madelia, Minnesota
Looks like I haven't been here for a while. And now I see PhotoBucket will gladly upgrade me for $400 a year? (!!!!) Looks like I've got some up-dating to do to get these pics back up again. Nice to see I can upload them direct. Might take a while though.


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 Post subject: Re: Nylon Mesh Snake Death Trap
PostPosted: September 30th, 2017, 1:27 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 3:08 am
Posts: 663
You can place them inline where the old photos are now.

#ScrewPhotobucket

#FHFsolution

:)

Scott


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