Let’s Refocus Rattlesnake Round-Ups!

Photo: Orry Martin, Texas Snake Hunter

Photo by Orry Martin, Texas Snake Hunter

Rattlesnake Round-Ups feature wild-caught rattlesnakes hunted, displayed and killed in often cruel and inhumane ways that also harm other animals and degrade the environment.  Rattlesnakes hold a valuable place in our ecosystem and provide life saving medicine for humans. They may not be cute like puppies, but the deserve respect and we can’t afford to diminish their numbers.

Ask Round-Up sponsors to require that organizers teach rattlesnake conservation. Rather than exaggerate fear for profit, real facts should be shared in a way that garners respect, not sensationalism. Sign the petition today!

Act NOW!

Center for Biological Diversity

Why It Matters

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake courtesy Wikimedia Commons - Tad Arensmeier

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake courtesy Wikimedia Commons – Tad Arensmeier

In preparation for a Rattlesnake Rodeo, rattlers are either gassed out of their holes (with fumes harming turtles, small mammals and the environment) or pulled out by a metal hook – which sometimes punctures the snake’s body or head. They are then thrown into a display pit, sometimes injured but still alive, and kicked around for the sake of entertainment. But wait. There’s more.

  • After being frozen to slow the snake’s reflexes, teeth are pulled out and their mouths sewn shut so that people can pose with a live Diamondback for a picture, until it dies and another is tortured in its place.
  • When the snakes are beheaded, their tongues still flick as their killers parade around with their heads on a stick. Why? The nerves can be responsive for hours, which means pain sensors are still active and attached to their brains.
  • Snake hearts are cut out to show how they still beat independent of the snake’s body.
  • Adding insult to deadly injury, the blood of thousands of snakes is drained into a bucket. Adults and children alike reach in with both hands to mark a white wall with bloody hand prints.
  • Venom collection in the name of a good cause is rendered unusable because the collection process is not sterile.
  • And then there is the species endangerment, as the “Position of The American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists Concerning Rattlesnake Conservation and Roundups” reads:

Such roundups promote overexploitation of natural populations of wildlife, unnecessary killing and inhumane treatment of individual animals, degradation of habitat, and promotion of outdated attitudes toward important elements of America’s natural heritage. Found nowhere but in the Americas, and especially diverse in the United States, the more than thirty species of rattlesnakes comprise a distinctive component of North America’s biodiversity, and one that is increasingly imperiled.

Big Fear Brings Big Money

The largest Rattlesnake Round-Up event in the United States is held in Sweetwater, Texas, complete with cash prizes and trophies. Attendance is based on slaying a fearsome dragon and, according to Wikipedia, “The events often attract thousands of tourists, which can bring hundreds of thousands of dollars of revenue into small towns; the Sweetwater Round-Up’s economic impact was estimated to exceed US$5 million in 2006.”

How do we beat that?

Orr yMartin

Keep the Festival. Change the Focus!

Rattlesnakes are highly important to human health. Controlling the rodent population with the highest efficiency, rattlesnakes are responsible for keeping human contracted disease at bay. Instances of hantavirus and plague rise in direct proportion to the absence of snakes. And, without the rattlesnakes, we will no longer have the venom used to make medications that treat diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure and blood clots. Let’s celebrate that.

Meet Orry Martin, The Texas Snake Hunter:

Orry has hunted snakes most of his life - with a camera. High school Biology teacher by day, Orry tours reptile expos and beyond to educate about rattlesnake round-up cruelty. He also just kick-started fundraising for the Leander Rattlesnake Roundup, the first-of-its kind alternative to the currently inhumane, un-educational, Rattlesnake Round- Ups.  Orry’s mission is to dispel judgment rooted in the Round-Up’s quick-cash sensationalism that deems rattlers, as Animal Planet does, “the most dangerous creatures on the planet.”

Watch how rattlers in the wild really react to human presence.

Need a second opinion? National Geographic says,

Feared as deadly and aggressive, diamondbacks are actually highly averse to human contact and only attack in defense. Most bites occur when humans taunt or try to capture or kill a rattlesnake.

Be the Change for Rattlesnakes!

Let’s follow Orry’s advice. “Educate. Not Eradicate.” There are no-kill Round-Ups in existence. They impose catch size restrictions and require the release of captured snakes back into the wild. We need the rest to be like them, offering education that isn’t based in fear.

Even if snakes unnerve you, smile and sign the petition anyway. The rattlesnake deserves a life of dignity, something that all beings deserve no matter how misunderstood we are.

About Author

Kim CluneKim Clune co-founded BTC4animals in May of 2010 to coalesce the online community of animal advocates. To act locally, Kim co-founded Dog House Adoptions to serve stray dogs and the people of New York’s Capital Region, too. She also celebrates human/animal connections at her personal blog, ThisOneWildLife.com.View all posts by Kim Clune →

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