The big news for the Reptile Nation from the Texas legislature so far in 2015 is not big cats or primates, it’s the celebration of the Sweetwater Jaycees cruelty and gore exhibition: the World’s Largest Rattlesnake Roundup.
On January 28, 2015, Representative Susan L. King (R-Abilene) filed Texas House Resolution 251, “Welcoming the Sweetwater Jaycees to the State Capitol for their Rattlesnake Roundup.”
HR 251 claims that the Sweetwater Jaycees share, “valuable lessons about one
of the Lone Star State’s most feared creatures . . . the Western diamondback rattlesnake.” It describes the Rattlesnake Roundup as, “a three-day extravaganza originally conceived by a group of area farmers and ranchers plagued by an overpopulation of rattlesnakes.” HR 251 calls the marketing of the Rattlesnake Roundup at the State Capitol a “fun and informative event” and an “unforgettable presentation.” HR 251 is intended to be an “expression of high regard by the Texas House of Representatives” to the Sweetwater Jaycees for their Rattlesnake Roundup.
The Rattlesnake Roundup is a gruesome and barbaric celebration of the torture and slaughter of rattlesnakes. Rattlesnakes are collected for weeks or months prior to the event each year, often by gassing or pouring ammonia into their underground burrows to force the snakes to surface. These massive collections of snakes impact many other species as well, including bull snakes, gopher snakes and indigo snakes. The population of the Western diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox), although still plentiful, has suffered severe regional declines due to habitat destruction, road traffic, hunting and persecution for rattlesnake roundups.
At the 2014 event, 3,890 pounds of rattlesnakes were slaughtered. Children are offered the opportunity to skin a snake, and afterward, press their hands covered with snake blood onto a wall of hand prints.
This is not an educational event. It is not an enriching activity for families. It is a lucrative money maker for the state of Texas, blood money that is reaped by teaching children to have a reckless disregard for the lives of animals and the ecology of our planet.
Texas residents should contact their Representatives and Rep. King and voice their reasoned opposition to HR 251.
Herp Alliance opposes and condemns HR 251.