According to news sources, every year in Sweetwater, Texas, gasoline is poured down burrows to drive out sleeping snakes so that they can be tortured at the city’s annual rattlesnake roundup festival, which is held the second weekend of March. This capture method—known as “gassing”—can cause burns and potentially fatal respiratory issues for its victims. It can also result in orphaned young animals starving when their parents are stolen away, and it leaves “nontarget” wildlife, including protected species such as the burrowing owl, vulnerable, too. The captured snakes are apparently confined to barrels for weeks without food and water until the festival, when they’re dumped into a pit in which young women who are competing in the “Miss Snake Charmer” pageant cut off their heads and remove their skin. Reportedly, the fangs of other snakes are ripped out and their mouths are sewn shut so that they can be passed around by festivalgoers. After the pageant, the animals are allegedly eaten, and their skins are made into trinkets to be sold.
In 2018, it will be the 60th year that this horrifying spectacle has happened, and the animals desperately need your voice. Please contact the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), and urge it to ban gassing and insidious rattlesnake roundup festivals. To submit a comment, click here. Under “Please Select a Subject or Office,” choose “Executive Director.” Remember that polite personalized messages work best, but you can also use our sample letter as a guide. Make sure to enter your e-mail address in the third field so that the TPWD can reply to your comment.
Sample Letter to Target
Please Act Now to Ban the Cruel ‘Gassing’ of Wildlife and the Torture of Snakes at Roundups
Respectfully, I am dismayed that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has not yet banned the gassing of wildlife and the torture of snakes at rattlesnake roundups. Evicting wild animals from their homes with noxious substances can result in burns and potentially fatal respiratory issues for the victims. It can also result in orphaned young animals starving when their parents are removed, and it leaves “nontarget” wildlife, including protected species, vulnerable, too. Prior to roundups, snakes are allegedly confined to barrels without food and water for weeks before their fangs are ripped out and their mouths are sewn shut so that they can be passed around by festivalgoers or be mutilated when their heads are chopped off and their bodies skinned. This cruel spectacle is a blight on Texas.
Please take immediate action to ban the inhumane and environmentally irresponsible gassing of wildlife and the torture of snakes at roundups.