End rattlesnake roundups

Published 5:17 pm Friday, January 28, 2011

There have been many efforts over the years by many individuals and groups to encourage the transformation of rattlesnake roundups to less harmful events.

Fitzgerald, Ga., changed theirs to the Wild Chicken Festival. San Antonio, Fla., calls theirs The Rattlesnake Festival, and features snakes and other animals kept in captivity as well as wildlife education and animal rescue groups. They no longer collect and kill rattlesnakes. Both festivals have met with great success.

Unfortunately Whigham and Claxton have not chosen to change. Offers to help them make this transformation for more than 10 years have met with no success. Now they have been refusing to even meet with anyone to discuss options. Most recently the children of OneMoreGeneration.org, who advocate for endangered and threatened species all over the world, have been rejected.

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We no longer live in a time when we can take for granted the continuation of any of our natural world without our protection. Some may think the only good snake is a dead snake, but snakes have their place in the natural scheme of things just like all of God’s creatures. We’d be overrun with rodents without their predators!

Many rattlesnake hunters spray gasoline down gopher tortoise burrows to force the snakes out. Gopher burrows provide shelter for more than 300 species of animals, many of which are threatened or endangered, as are the tortoises themselves. If a rattlesnake is forced out, what is happening to the other species there and the burrows, too?

Some may say that the roundups do a service by providing venom for collection. But Eastern Diamondbacks have been raised in captivity for decades for the purposes of harvesting the venom without taking animals out of the wild and killing them.

In the 21st Century, I think we can know better and do better. If we don’t start protecting our wild things now while they are in decline, when will we?

Beth Grant

Thomasville, Ga.