Posts Tagged ‘reptile’

Rattlesnake GRoundup

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Here is an unfortunate celebration in the NY Times of a sad practice:  The Rattlesnake Roundup.  Note that the story, “A Knack for Hooking the Longest Rattlers,” appears in the sports section.  Imagine if this were baby seal clubbing, or raptor shooting, or even a wolf hunt–you can bet the Times would have run the story with analysis of the impact of the ritual on native populations, of the potential cruelty involved, of the unnecessary commodification of wildlife.  But here, because it is snakes, the hunters are the voice of whether this is a fair practice and the Jaycees are the reporter’s source for what the snake population can sustain.

“The population I don’t think is in any danger,” Sawyers [of the Jaycees] said. “Some people do use gas fumes to draw them out of the hole. In Texas law, there’s nothing on the books right now that says you can’t, so it’s up to each individual hunter.”

Gassing for snakes is a reviled practice.  Florida has outlawed gassing not only because it kills everything else around and damages soil and water, but also because it causes nervous disorders in the snakes.  Shame on the Times for running this story as a sporting event, shame on Sweetwater, Texas for celebrating the killing of wildlife without any apparent research as to the rattlesnakes’ threat to humans, cattle, or research on the snakes’ sustainability. And, of course, taking the kids out to a rattlesnake killing is just what we need to engender respect for wildlife.  Texas has some of the world’s most knowledgeable snake lovers.  It is a shame it also has so many haters.

Hot Heads (and Cooler)

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

Here is something that looks entertaining–a new fangled terrarium, no antivenom required.  Bryan

Python v. Florida: Swallowing Ethics

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

As you probably know, Burmese pythons have been found in South Florida, including in the Florida Keys.  What is not widely reported is that the Everglades population is estimated to exceed 150,000 pythons, meaning the species is now established there permanently.  People I know there talk about the disappearance of ground dwelling birds and mammals in areas populated by the pythons.  Tragically, those tasked with addressing the problem have been using shotguns to dispatch the pythons; one avowed nature lover I know boasted driving a car over a python to protect the glades.   An ethics question:  if the snakes are now part of our eco-system, is it responsible for biologists to kill them?  …to kill them inhumanely? 

Jurisdiction after jurisdiction (and congress) is considering and often passing anti-reptile keeping legislation.  Given this, and regardless whether they are ever negligently released, is it responsible to sell tens of thousands of giant pythons each year? …to teenagers?

Here is a good link to Allen Salzberg’s coverage of the issue in HerpDigest.   Here is a link to Tom Crutchfield’s take on the issue on Kingsnake.com.  Readers of The Lizard King know that Tom Crutchfield is a pioneer in the reptile business and a world-class smuggler in his heyday- He is also a very knowledgeable guy. 

Below is the Today Show story on the Burmese pythons loose in South Florida/Keys (ps. that first shot is a boa).