Action Alert: Alabama Rattlesnakes Threatened

Senate Bill 64 removes all State protections for rattlesnakes in Alabama. As if snakes were not under enough pressure, now certain cities in Alabama will be allowed to do whatever they want with them, including kill all of them they can find at public events and festivals.

"This bill would prohibit the Commissioner of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Advisory Board of Conservation and Natural Resources from prohibiting or limiting the use of any species of rattlesnake used in certain events hosted in certain municipalities."

If this bill passes, it will be legal to kick, kill, mutilate, or do anything else to any species of rattlesnake in all Alabama cities with less than 7,000 residents (in the 2010 census) indefinitely. While we fully support educational events such as Lone Star Rattlesnake Days, we are vehemently opposed to traditional rattlesnake roundups such as the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup which is a killing field for rattlesnakes. It seems the Opp Rattlesnake Rodeo is a traditional roundup and has not evolved into an education event. This bill protects the future of killing rattlesnakes in Opp, Alabama and all other small towns.

We have seen that the termination of snake cruelty at these events is beneficial. Attendance goes up, more money comes in, and the people gain appreciation and understanding for snakes, rather than fear (see letter below).

The bill was introduced by Senator Holley on March 5 and referred to the Senate Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry.

Please contact the Committee members (link below), educate them about rattlesnakes, and ask them to stop this bill. And as hard as it will be, remain civil and professional!

SB64 text: www.legiscan.com/AL/text/SB64/id/1945695

Sample Messaging

Link to Committee members: www.legislature.state.al.us/aliswww/ISD/SenCommittee.aspx?OID_ORGANIZATION=3263&COMMITTEE=Agriculture+Conservation+and+Forestry&fbclid

Email list: kim.robertson@alsenate.gov, tom.whatley@alsenate.gov, d.r.sessions@att.net,
d.r.sessions@att.net, billy.beasley@alsenate.gov, chris.elliott@alsenate.gov, garlan.gudger@alsenate.gov,
andrew.jones@alsenate.gov, steve.livingston@alsenate.gov, steve.livingston@alsenate.gov,
tim.melson@alsenate.gov, randyprice.sd13@gmail.com, clay.scofield@alsenate.gov,
larry.stutts@alsenate.gov, jackwilliams55@icloud.com

Sample letter/email subject lines:

  1. NO to SB64
  2. STOP SB64
  3. SB64 is bad for Alabama
  4. Kill SB64 before it kills wildlife

You can just copy/paste the letter below but we recommend you edit and personalize a bit so the officials receive mixed letters with the same basic message. Thank you for helping rattlesnakes!

SAMPLE LETTER

Dear Senate Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry Committee Members,

As a concerned conservationist and animal welfare advocate, I implore you to vote NO to Senate Bill 64. Rather than passing a bill to protect the continued killing and cruelty to rattlesnakes, these animals must be protected as they serve important roles in our ecosystem.

Please take action to stop the contribution to the extinction of our native snakes by asking the promoters of the Opp Rattlesnake Rodeo to evolve this roundup into an educational no-kill event. This annual roundup is a contest in which hunters bring in hundreds of snakes to be butchered and inhumanely displayed. This is depleting populations of native rattlesnakes in Alabama and surrounding states, while also placing them on the brink of extinction. Traditional roundups promote misinformation and irrational fears, while also encouraging people to unjustly treat snakes with hatred. Of critical importance, this is animal cruelty!

Misleading justifications for the continuation of these killing contests include:

  1. Generation of community revenue;
  2. Control of the snake populations;
  3. Venom collection;
  4. Education about rattlesnake interactions.

All of the above reasons are flawed and irrational. Here are just a few factual rebuttals.

  1. It has been proven across the country that educational no-kill events produce more revenue and attract more attendees than traditional roundups. Traditional roundups that have converted have seen huge increases in profits, while new educational no-kill events are taking foothold to help conservation efforts, while also attracting tourism.
  2. Populations of these snakes do not need to be controlled. Rattlesnake species across the country are already facing extinction from human encroachment, loss of habitat, pollution, and road kills. The added pressure of collection for these roundups has already extirpated them from many localities. Like them or not, rattlesnakes and other snakes are important to our environment and help control rodent populations. Also, science does not support the claims that roundups are essential to prevent overpopulation.
  3. Venom collected from these rattlesnakes at roundups cannot be used to produce antivenin. Only venom collected in a sterile environment may be used for this purpose and venom collected during these roundups is not purchased by medical laboratories. Yes, snakes are milked at roundups, but it is for entertainment only.
  4. While these roundups preach education, they actually lead to bites from venomous snakes. The events condone the killing of rattlesnakes, and the vast majority of venomous snake bites occur when people interact with them, either attempting to kill them or pick them up. These roundups actually encourage rattlesnake interaction, which is dangerous if untrained. To the opposite, the educational events teach how to be responsible when encountering animals in the wild.

In addition to harming rattlesnakes, these roundups include collection practices that harm other wildlife, plants and the environment. For example, “gassing” is common to collect rattlesnakes. This involves using gasoline or other hazardous liquids to flush rattlesnakes from ground burrows. This practice harms tortoises, mammals, non-venomous snakes, ground birds, amphibians, and other animals, not to mention plants and the overall environment. Some of the other species harmed are already endangered or threatened. In addition, collection practices result in habitat destruction and can pollute water sources.

Below are just a few examples of events that have been converted from traditional roundups leading to greater success than the previous roundups. In addition, some are new education-only humane events that have been hugely successful:

  1. Claxton, Georgia now has a no-kill Rattlesnake & Wildlife Festival
  2. San Antonio, Florida now has a no-kill event
  3. Fitzgerald, Georgia now has a wildlife festival
  4. Pennsylvania roundups have converted to catch and release (which must be done appropriately and with regulation)
  5. Snake Days in Sanderson, TX is a no-kill educational event
  6. Lone Star Rattlesnake Days in Austin, TX is a no-kill educational event
  7. Texas Rattlesnake Festival in Conroe, TX is a no-kill educational event

Think about the future! New traditions need to be implemented celebrating our natural world without needless slaughter. This has proven to be more successful than ever by illustrating an appreciation for wildlife and nature, not decimation. By supporting the demonization of rattlesnakes, we are encouraging all snakes to be killed, as well as vilifying all animals that are not cute and fuzzy.

The rattlesnake roundup is an outdated, inhumane tradition. This is a massacre of nature solely for the purposes of profit and entertainment (to some miseducated individuals). Instead, events must spread awareness of the ecologically important role that rattlesnakes play, while educating attendees about all aspects of the rattlesnake world. We must teach appreciation of nature in a world already struggling due to our urbanization. Future generations will have no empathy for any wild animal or our environment if do not begin changing what lessons we teach.

Please do what is right for Alabama's environment, wildlife, citizens, and our future by voting NO to Senate Bill 64. Thank you for your time and consideration on this important matter.

Respectfully,

YOUR NAME (city and state optional)

Article written by USARK