Snake specimen captured in Ibiza.

The Conselleria de Agricultura, Pesca y Medio Natural captured last year in the Pitiusas a total of 2,896 invasive snakes, as revealed Monday at a press conference to present the data of the 2023 campaign to control ophidians.

The data, provided by the Consortium for the Recovery of the Fauna of the Balearic Islands (Cofib), indicate that during the eight months of operation of the project (from April to November) have been captured 2,007 specimens of invasive snakes in Ibiza (1,946 horseshoe snakes and 61 specimens of white snake) and 889 in Formentera (888 specimens of white snake and one of horseshoe snake).

As reported by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Natural Environment, during the 2022 season the number of catches was 2,710 in Ibiza and 664 in Formentera. On the other hand, in 2021 1,754 specimens were caught, 1,047 of them in Ibiza and 707 in Formentera.

These results have been detailed this Monday during a technical meeting that has been held at the headquarters of the Consell de Ibiza and in which, in addition to the data of 2023, the strategies and planning to follow this year have been exposed.

At the meeting, the general director of Natural Environment and Forest Management, Anna Torres, stressed that the project to control snakes in the Pitiusas has three main objectives. "The aim is to determine what is the real problem today (number of species, real distribution, adaptation to the environment and impact on biodiversity), as well as to study and control the expansion and density of snakes in Ibiza and try to eradicate them in Formentera," she said.

Torres has assured that "it is essential to inform, raise awareness and encourage citizen collaboration to publicize the problem with invasive species".

However, the general director pointed out that "none of the species mentioned are dangerous to people. However, the effects they may have on biodiversity are of concern". Torres thanked the collaboration of the citizens "who from the first moment have been interested in the project and have contributed with their help".

The data reveal that the horseshoe snake (Hemorrhois hippocrepis) is colonizing the entire territory in Ibiza and the white snake (Zamenis scalaris), also present in Formentera, has also been detected. The Govern has recalled that the introduction of peninsular ophidians in the Balearic Islands is directly related to the introduction of ornamental trees (mainly olive trees) from the south of the Peninsula for use in gardening.

In this regard, since 2016 the Govern has been working on the monitoring and control of these species and has the economic support of a project derived from the sustainable tourism tax of the Balearic Islands Tourism Strategy Agency (Aetib) since 2020. Thus, in 2023 Decree Law 1/2023 of January 30 was approved, establishing measures for the protection of lizards and for the prevention and fight against the introduction of snakes in the Islands.

Likewise, work continues on other measures to prevent the entry of new ophidians, such as the fine-tuning of the inspection protocol for the entry of ornamental trees, quarantines and detection of ophidians with different systems.

At the end of this last phase of the project (ending in mid-2024) a final report will be drafted with the results obtained, which will serve to determine the best strategy to maintain a density control plan in Ibiza and for the possible future eradication of ophidians in Formentera.