Focus on endangered grass snake at Jersey conference

LOCAL and visiting wildlife experts will turn their attention to the grass snake at an annual seminar being held in Jersey this weekend.The Jersey Amphibian and Reptile Group (JARG) and the Department of the Environment jointly organise the day of talks, workshops and training on local amphibians and reptiles. JARG is an informal group of organisations and individuals that work together for the benefit of species and habitats under threat or which need special attention. Jersey has an international commitment to conserving biodiversity as a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Each year the conference focuses on a different species or issues. This year, it’s the grass snake – the UK’s largest reptile and the only snake to lay eggs. Amphibians and reptiles are important indicators of local environmental health and Jersey’s grass snake is close to extinction. During the day delegates will learn more about this species with an emphasis on how to find them when conducting surveys. The more data collected, the better the information on which to judge future trends and to take any necessary action to conserve the species for the future. As a result of a joint programme by Department of the Environment and the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, a three-year study is being carried out on the Island’s grass snakes and slow-worms. The scientist carrying out the study will be speaking at the conference. States of Jersey Research Ecologist Nina Cornish said: ‘It is fantastic to be part of a new three-year study. Grass snakes are Jersey’s rarest reptile and we hope to halt their extinction and conserve for future generations.’ In the afternoon, the focus will be on Jersey’s National Amphibian and Reptile Recording Scheme (see, a partnership project which has been running in Jersey six years, led by the UK’s Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Group. The event is open to anyone interested in learning more about amphibians and reptiles and who want to get involved in wildlife recording and conservation. The day is being held at Durrell Conservation Academy on 8 February 9.30am to 3.30 pm. If you would like to attend, please reserve a place by contacting Nina Cornish on 441624 or by email: