Leslie Anthony has contributed to many of the leading ski, adventure and travel magazines in North America, as well as writing books about his experiences. But before his career as a writer, Anthony could be found trawling swamps, sifting through woodpiles, turning over rocks and peeling back layers of rot in search of snakes, salamanders, frogs and other wiggling things in search of unique, rare and sometimes dangerous specimens.
This Thursday (Dec. 12) at 7 p.m., Anthony — a doctor of zoology — will be giving a special slideshow presentation on his discovery of the shy, slug-eating sharp-tailed snake at the Whistler Public Library, hosted by the Whistler Naturalists Society as part of their annual general meeting.
Anthony wrote about his diverse experiences hunting reptiles and amphibians as a herpetologist in his book Snakebit: Confessions of a Herpetologist published in 2008, but it seems he could probably add a few chapters. In 2011, Anthony was peeling back the bark of rotting trees in the Pemberton area in search of specimens (herpetology is still his hobby and passion) when he discovered the sharp-tailed snake — a species listed as endangered with only one prior discovery on mainland British Columbia in 1964.
Its discovery has significant ramifications for development plans in the Pemberton Valley, given the rarity of the find and the snake's special status as a species at risk.
The presentation is called "Snakes and Ladders: Biodiversity and Development in the Pemberton Valley," and will include a look back at the last three years since the discovery, and the larger reptile and amphibian inventory that Anthony has undertaken.
Following the presentation, the Whistler Naturalists will host their annual general meeting, looking back on the year's highlights — including the 24-hour BioBlitz event, the Fungus Among Us mushroom festival, monthly birds walks, the Christmas bird count, the breeding bird survey, glacier monitoring, articles on local nature, and more. As well, the society will be hosting an election to the board, recruiting new members.
The Whistler Naturalists Society was created to increase local knowledge of, and appreciation for, the natural world in the Whistler area. For more, visit www.whistlernaturalists.ca.