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San Francisco Garter Snake

SAVE THEM ALL: Today’s Endangered All-Star is perhaps the most endangered snake in America: the San Francisco Garter snake, with one or two thousand surviving in only two counties: San Mateo and a fragment of Santa Cruz. This subspecies of the common garter snake is a specialist, preferring to dine on a single species of freshwater frog, the California red-legged frog, which has disappeared from 70% of its range and is itself threatened. The snake haunts ponds and wetlands and is one of the few species that can ingest the toxic California newt without intestinal repercussions. One of the last significant populations occurs west of the San Francisco International Airport, and in 2001, construction on the airport BART commuter station was brought to a halt when one of the snakes was killed. To secure a haven for the snake and its prey, the Center for Biological Diversity is promoting the development of a lagoon habitat at Sharp Park in Pacifica, California. In 2008, the Center filed a notice of intent to sue the city of San Francisco for illegally killing the snake on a nearby golf course. Sharp Park is said to present one of the “great restoration opportunities” in the Bay area, but so far, golf-aficionados have resisted, applying for landmark status for the 1930s-era course despite the fact that it is often flooded.
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