"Rattlesnake roundups" are cruel contests where hunters bring in as many wild snakes as they can catch in a year; afterwards the snakes are slaughtered and sold for their skin and meat.
They're a serious problem -- one that many people don't even know exist. Roundups in the Southeast, for example, are driving sharp declines of the eastern diamondback rattlesnake, which is the target of contests in Whigham, Ga., and Opp, Ala. In response to a Center petition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that eastern diamondbacks may now need Endangered Species Act protection.
Across the country rattlers play a key role in the food web, especially in terms of rodent control. And because hunters often use gasoline to drive snakes from their dens, roundups are also harmful to hundreds of other species that share their homes with the snakes. In Texas, 20 endangered species living underground can be harmed by suffocating gas fumes, which is why the Center recently petitioned to end "gassing" of Texas snake dens.
Please sign our petition asking communities to change their roundups to festivals where snakes are celebrated and admired -- not hunted and killed.
We, the undersigned, are writing to urge you to change the rattlesnake roundup held in your community to a humane festival where snakes are not hunted or killed. Towns such as Claxton, Ga., have already changed their roundups to successful wildlife festivals that generate income for their communities. We urge you to follow their example and change your roundup to an event where snakes are not collected or slaughtered.