Something I hope you'll all read and consider:

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Terry Allan Hall

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(Hope this isn't the wrong place for this)

As some of you know, "Rattlesnake Round-Ups" involve "gassing" the snakes' dens to make capturing the rattlers easier...but not all know that many other animals, including the federally protected Burrowing Owl and Texas Desert Tortoise, share the rattlesnake's dens. Gassing almost always kills the tortoises and owls in the dens...

burrowing_owl.jpg

4-TexasTortoise-1.jpg.w560h452.jpg


Many of us feel like it's time to make this method of snake gathering illegal, as it is in many states!

Further info:

Rattlesnake roundups, a southern tradition that needs to change

By Sandy Beck

About 60 years ago, someone figured out that by pumping a little gasoline vapor into gopher tortoise burrows you could drive out the inhabitants and roundup a ton of rattlesnakes.

Twenty-three towns in Florida, Georgia and Alabama created rattlesnake roundups as a way for farmers and ranchers to rid their land of the reptiles and make a little money. Prizes are awarded for the most snakes and the heaviest snakes. Only three roundups persist in the 21st century: Opp, Alabama, and Whigham and Claxton, Georgia.

A few years ago, Lori Varn attended the Whigham Roundup with her children. “They had a fenced ring, just like a rodeo, and big tanks filled with hundreds of rattlesnakes. Men pulled snakes out and walked around with them. They tore the rattles off live snakes and gave them to some of the children. My son thought this was so cool,” she said.

Back home, Varn’s son, toting his BB-gun, went exploring in the woods. An eastern diamondback rattlesnake was sunning itself next to a log. It coiled up and rattled.

Instead of heeding the snake’s warning, he shot it and marched home with the dead snake around his neck.

Varn was horrified. “He could have been killed.”

Yes, the boy was lucky. But no one would feel sorry for the snake. There are gazillions of them; it might have struck him; and the only good snake is a dead snake. Right?

Not really. The eastern diamondback rattlesnake (EDR) is not a vicious creature. Ecologist D. Bruce Means, Ph. D., director of the Coastal Plains Institute and Land Conservancy, calls it the Gentle Ben of venomous snakes. If an animal is not small enough for it to swallow whole, the snake will rely on its camouflaged body to blend in or slither away.

According to Means, the EDR used to range widely over the Southeast, but because of habitat loss and roundups, their numbers have plummeted.

Today, snake hunters must drive hundreds of miles to find rattlers. The snakes they capture are thrown into overcrowded barrels and stockpiled – hungry, dehydrated, sick from the gas and many suffocating beneath their chums – until the winter roundups.

Gassing makes the burrow uninhabitable for years and permanently impairs the snakes and other species that peacefully cohabitate with them, including gopher tortoises and indigo snakes, both threatened species in Florida, Georgia and Alabama.
John Jensen, senior wildlife biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, says that gassing is illegal. “However, it’s still their primary method. Snake hunters couldn’t get the numbers any other way. A fairly substantial skin trade market drives the roundups,” says Jensen, who is vehemently against them.

Venom extractions are heavily promoted in an effort to legitimize the roundups. Snake handlers “milk” the venom, which, purportedly, is sold for medical purposes.

Carl M. Barden is director of the Medtoxin Venom Laboratory in DeLand, Florida, which sells snake venom to six biopharmaceutical companies in the United States.

In a phone conversation, Barden said, “To be useful, venom must be produced under sterile conditions, centrifuged and kept cold. We have never purchased EDR venom from a roundup.”

One of the companies that buys Medtoxin’s venom is BTG, the largest producer of rattlesnake anti-venom.

In an email, Ashley Tapp, BTG Communications Manager, wrote that they have never purchased venom from any rattlesnake roundup. “Our venoms are purchased only from approved suppliers.”

Roundup promoters in Georgia, sensitive to potential bad press, stress the “educational and scientific value” of the roundups and money raised for non-profit groups.

Clearly, venom collected at roundups has little or no scientific value. How about education?

One of the most harmful consequences of these roundups is that children get the message that wildlife is there for humans to use and abuse as they see fit.

Varn always taught her son to respect nature, but she feels the Whigham roundup gave him the notion that “killing snakes is cool.”

This tradition has outlived its original purpose and needs to end, or at least change.

One roundup, held every January in San Antonio, Florida, has evolved into a Rattlesnake Festival. Education presentations feature snakes that are not abused or harassed, the crowd is enthralled and children go home with a new appreciation and respect for vipers. The event draws 30,000 visitors and raises thousands of dollars for local nonprofits.

Chet Powell, manager of Reed Bingham State Park in Adel, Georgia, is planning a Rattlesnake Festival to draw people away from the roundup relics. Contact him if you are interested in participating or sponsoring this event.

The Whigham Rattlesnake Roundup is held the last Saturday in January. The Claxton and Opp roundups are held in March. If we don’t attend, organizers will get the message that it’s time to support another type of event that encourages conservation and preservation, rather than the wholesale slaughter of wildlife and the destruction of their habitats.


Sandy Beck is a nature writer, environmental educator and director of The Wild Classroom in Tallahassee, Florida, www.wildclassroom.net.
http://www.wildclassroom.net/wildideas/rattlerroundup.html



Finally:

Please consider visiting the link below and replying to a survey regarding
the use of gasoline in collecting rattlesnakes in Texas. As you recall,
this is something that contaminates habitat and poisons various species of
wildlife that make use of deep crevices, burrows, or caves. We will forward
results (without identifying any respondents) to Texas Parks & Wildlife
Department for their consideration, and might help move toward banning this
practice.

Please forward this to any friends who may not be on these email lists but
who may want to help.


http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/6HLY76B

Thanks!

Michael Smith
TexasHerp.org
 

Candy

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I would be more then happy to spread the word. You know how I feel about animals and abuse by humans. I take a lot of time with my own children to educate them the right way about how far humans should go when it comes to animals and their rights. Thanks for the information. It's great that you take the time to do this.
 

Angi

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I already did. This is crazy and I am not a big rattle snake fan, but I don't go out looking to harm them. And to harm other animals too.....SICK!
 

motero

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As to the harming of owls and tortoises that really needs to stop. But you should look more into the population numbers of the snakes where they hold the round ups. They hardly make a dent in the snake population. But don't take my word for it.
 

Terry Allan Hall

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motero said:
As to the harming of owls and tortoises that really needs to stop. But you should look more into the population numbers of the snakes where they hold the round ups. They hardly make a dent in the snake population. But don't take my word for it.

Actually, "round-ups" make a huge difference in populations...only a fraction of the captured snakes survive being "stockpiled" between round-ups...naturally, the folks profiting from this business enterprise prefer that you believe otherwise...

There are quite a few places I go hunting (deer, hawgs, etc.) that once had a lot of rattlers but now have very few...but considerably more field rats!
 

Laura

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I bet they have a much larger rodent population now..
Its hard to target one 'problem' species when doing things like that..
it makes it just more Wrong!
 

shane1111

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that is sick. i hate how people think snakes are evil reptiles. they are not! they have the right like any other animal to live with out humans killing them.
 
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