Snakes in New Jersey Win Important Victory

Corn snakes are common in much of the United States -- but not in New Jersey, where they have been on the state's endangered species list since 1979. Last week, the presence of corn snakes and northern pine snakes was enough to shut down a 110-home development in what is already the most densely populated state in the nation.

Why is this a particular victory if the snake is common in other parts of the country? Because this past March, the Bush Administration reinterpreted the Endangered Species Act to say that if a species is rare in one area, but populous in another, it does not deserve protection anywhere.

This "reinterpretation" puts many species -- and entire ecosystems -- at great risk. If the corn snake does not deserve protection in New Jersey, the state runs a risk of losing an important part of the ecosystem, in this case a predator that controls rodent population.

Sure, this ruling only relates to New Jersey, and only to this one specific development, but it's a step (or slither) in the right direction.

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