Texas Parks and Wildlife considers Ban on Gassing Snakes

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dery
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Re: Texas Parks and Wildlife considers Ban on Gassing Snakes

Post by dery » December 4th, 2012, 3:04 pm

Yes it is. This is great. :beer:

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Re: Texas Parks and Wildlife considers Ban on Gassing Snakes

Post by Coluber Constrictor » December 4th, 2012, 3:46 pm

Definitley a step in the right direction. I always thought it was nuts that it's illegal to catch a snake on a road there, but totally fine to spray gas on them.

There should be a nationwide ban on this IMO.

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Re: Texas Parks and Wildlife considers Ban on Gassing Snakes

Post by VICtort » December 4th, 2012, 4:06 pm

I agree with Coluber constrictor, it is so amazing that this is a debatable issue, imagine using gasoline for the take of any other species, it simply woud be intolerable. I hope some savvy and responsible folks who know how to conduct themselves at a public meeting so as to be most effective are there to support the Texas biologists or others who are trying to move forward with this prohibition. Let the other side "pro round-up" folks act extreme and unreasonable. Be prepared for inuendo and direct verbal jousts... Are there any of our Texas members who might attend?

I also hope they write intelligent and encompassing legislation/policy/regulations. It must be include use and Possession of chemicals, fumes etc., etc., as if they can't use gas, they may resort to Clorox or ammonia or something equally outrageous. Make sure the warden has a case if they posses the chemicals in the field, not actually use them. A challenge to write...the details that some folks make a science of getting around. This will be a tough one to enforce, even if it passes...but I agree, it is a start in the right direction. I would think reasonably educated people would be embarrassed to have such practices in their State...I don't mean the participants, I mean the other reasonable citizens of the Great State of Texas...

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Re: Texas Parks and Wildlife considers Ban on Gassing Snakes

Post by Herpetologist115 » December 4th, 2012, 4:26 pm

Coluber Constrictor wrote:Definitley a step in the right direction. I always thought it was nuts that it's illegal to catch a snake on a road there, but totally fine to spray gas on them.

There should be a nationwide ban on this IMO.
I agree. This is a cruel and inhumane method of snake removal. Now if only they would stop rattlesnake roundups.

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Re: Texas Parks and Wildlife considers Ban on Gassing Snakes

Post by chris_mcmartin » December 4th, 2012, 4:37 pm

Doesn't the EPA already regulate dumping noxious chemicals (i.e. gassing burrows)?

It'll be interesting to see if/how such an anti-gassing regulation is enforced.

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Chris Smith
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Re: Texas Parks and Wildlife considers Ban on Gassing Snakes

Post by Chris Smith » December 4th, 2012, 5:04 pm

chris_mcmartin wrote:Doesn't the EPA already regulate dumping noxious chemicals (i.e. gassing burrows)?

It'll be interesting to see if/how such an anti-gassing regulation is enforced.
You would think that the US EPA and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (state pollution control agency) would have some sort of statute or rule in place banning the disposal of gas into the soil... If so, they should be the ones enforcing the rule(s).

If Texas Parks & Wildlife bans it, it will fall on them to enforce....

-Chris

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Mark Brown
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Re: Texas Parks and Wildlife considers Ban on Gassing Snakes

Post by Mark Brown » December 5th, 2012, 1:44 am

chris_mcmartin wrote:Doesn't the EPA already regulate dumping noxious chemicals (i.e. gassing burrows)?
That's what I've always thought. Similarly, I've always thought it was illegal to change your oil and drain it in the front yard or gutter. Maybe that was an urban legend and you can actually just pour anything anywhere you want to......nothing much would surprise me.

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Re: Texas Parks and Wildlife considers Ban on Gassing Snakes

Post by chris_mcmartin » December 5th, 2012, 4:19 am

People are breaking an existing law. Do you

a) enforce that law more effectively, or
b) make ANOTHER law to be ignored?

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Daryl Eby
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Re: Texas Parks and Wildlife considers Ban on Gassing Snakes

Post by Daryl Eby » December 5th, 2012, 6:41 am

chris_mcmartin wrote:People are breaking an existing law. Do you

a) enforce that law more effectively, or
b) make ANOTHER law to be ignored?
c) make a new law that permits you to violate the first IF you buy a special license.

Who wants to bet that the final law includes some sort of exception for "licensed snake abatement professionals" (or some other made up title that makes round-up goons sound like heroes)?

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Mark Brown
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Re: Texas Parks and Wildlife considers Ban on Gassing Snakes

Post by Mark Brown » December 5th, 2012, 6:57 am

Could just flood the EPA with reports every single time we hear about those cretins gassing dens

http://www.epa.gov/epahome/violations.htm

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Fieldherper
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Re: Texas Parks and Wildlife considers Ban on Gassing Snakes

Post by Fieldherper » December 5th, 2012, 8:06 am

I didn't even realize that this was still legal! Yet they crack down on road-cruising and walking cuts!!!! Unbelievable. At least they are moving in the right direction.

FH

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Re: Texas Parks and Wildlife considers Ban on Gassing Snakes

Post by Daryl Eby » December 5th, 2012, 9:15 pm

VICtort wrote:I also hope they write intelligent and encompassing legislation/policy/regulations. It must be include use and Possession of chemicals, fumes etc., etc., as if they can't use gas, they may resort to Clorox or ammonia or something equally outrageous. Make sure the warden has a case if they posses the chemicals in the field, not actually use them.
Good points. If they can't use gas, they'll find some other noxious substance.

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Re: Texas Parks and Wildlife considers Ban on Gassing Snakes

Post by Shane_TX » December 5th, 2012, 9:36 pm


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Re: Texas Parks and Wildlife considers Ban on Gassing Snakes

Post by Fundad » December 5th, 2012, 10:58 pm

Glad to see this.. :thumb:

My personal take is it shouldn't be allowed for snakes or on any other type of wildlife, period!

Fundad

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TimCole
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Re: Texas Parks and Wildlife considers Ban on Gassing Snakes

Post by TimCole » December 6th, 2012, 3:44 pm

What's needed are well written letters to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Commissioners.

They can be contacted on this page...http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/ab ... issioners/.

This issue needs to be brought to their attention.

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Re: Texas Parks and Wildlife considers Ban on Gassing Snakes

Post by Soopaman » December 6th, 2012, 3:50 pm

Okay, please don't take this the wrong way, but I'm really trying to see how solid our supporting arguments are.

If they used, instead of gasoline, another solution that was an irritant, that did no permanent damage to the snakes, and no environmental damage, would you still be opposed to its use? (This is hypothetical, so I don't want to hear "That doesn't exist" or whatever other chemophobic things come up)

How does this change IF it is proven that harvest of these rattlesnakes does not, in any way, have detrimental population effects (ie extirpation in certain areas).

For the record, I am totally against gassing of dens and other torturous activities that happen at roundups. I just want to posit some counter arguments that can make you think a bit.

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Re: Texas Parks and Wildlife considers Ban on Gassing Snakes

Post by Herpetologist115 » December 6th, 2012, 4:11 pm

Sad thing is if the animals were rabbits or some other cute little mammal instead of rattlesnakes this would have been banned long ago. But apparently some people don't care if an animal is getting inhumane conditions, mouth sewn shut and then beheaded. Disgusting...

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Re: Texas Parks and Wildlife considers Ban on Gassing Snakes

Post by VICtort » December 6th, 2012, 10:07 pm

Soopa and others, it is outrageous that rattlesnakes may be taken in such an "unsporting" manner...after all, we don't allow deer hunters to light the forest on fire or use irritating noise to drive game, shouldn't rattlesnakes that are after all within a den site and no direct threat to anyone be allowed some refuge without being subjected to noxious fumes? The problems here are in the details, we have a wildlife department that is allowing the take of what I guess is a non-game animal, and for whatever reason they are allowing the commercial harvest of it with very few if any restrictions. Even commercial fishermen have restrictions, so this is truly bizarre management. We could collectively argue that harvesting snakes using noxious or irritating fumes or gases, fluids, chemicals, etc., within dens is an unethical and poor sportsmanship, and should be declared an unlawful method of take. Further we should argue collateral environmental damage to non target species is probable using this profoundly nonselective harvest method. This includes "take" of listed species, which is totally unacceptable. The whole snake harvest is weird, as most other species must be reduced to bag, that is killed. Other species have selected methods of take, limits, and protection against cruelty (sewing lips shut for photos). From what I hear, cheating is standard, so it does not seem likely that the round up folks would self-regulate themselves in the manner of some "honorable" pursuits where sportmanship and ethics are paramount.

Texas wildlife should eventually be pressured into declaring its management goals...is it eradication or sustained harvest over time? Do they have data to defend the harvest or does the data show a decline? How can they possibly justify this bizarre practice? I realize we are trying to work with them, not oppose, and it is important to publicly support the TWD staff who proposed this. Rattlesnakes lack the fecundity of rats or mice, and maybe thus deserve more protection and some regulation to harvest?

Chis McMartin and some of us apparently agree that passing this regulation is one thing, effectively enforcing it is quite another. So many practices are unlawful, yet they get minimal enforcement for various reasons. Lack of buy in by enforcement agencies, low priority relative to other needs, poorly written laws, soft D.A.'s and judges who don't support the law and thus the officers are wasting time with cases, etc., come to mind. Will it be written in such a manner that a warden can write someone up for possession of chemicals or would the warden have to actually witness it being used? What if some snake hunter carries a big 12 oz. can of lighter fluid and claims he just want to keep his lighters topped off? I wonder if said snake hunter round up guy used pepper spray or some other lawful to possess irritant, would the warden have a case? (maybe not a good example due to snake eyes being different, but you get the point...) Other agencies have their hands full with major oil spills and dry cleaner dumpers and water polluters, it does not seem likely they would seriously enforce environmental laws being violated by round-up veterans etc.

A challenge, get someone to post the draft of the proposal, and then have us collectively try to "get around it", and then re-write it in such a manner or consult to make it somewhat enforceable. You will find writing effective legislation or rules is not easy.."it went in as a pig, but came out a sausage, it was still pork, but I did not recognize it" has been my experience. Maybe some herp enthusiast environmental lawyer would be willing to assist? The law needs to be encompassing, not full of weasel words for special interest groups i.e. the Jaycees. BTW, what if they agree with me, but then they say using a "hook" or intrusive device is not OK, would that upset us as herpers? BTW, such a law exists for lobster managment in California.

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Re: Texas Parks and Wildlife considers Ban on Gassing Snakes

Post by chris_mcmartin » December 7th, 2012, 4:37 am

What I am posting is highly unpopular here. I don't have a BIG problem with the roundups THEMSELVES, as they exist in Texas but rather have a problem with certain aspects of them--method of take (gassing), cruelty if and where it exists (sewing shut of lips), etc. Without gassing I expect the overall numbers of snakes taken would decrease (a good thing) and the roundups would be forced to either slowly fade away (most of them) or complete their ongoing metamorphosis into a non-lethal-based event (Sweetwater).

It is my understanding that it is already illegal (via EPA) to intentionally introduce hazardous chemicals such as gasoline into the environment. This is apparently not currently being enforced. What leads us to believe an additional regulation would be enforced any more than existing regulations?

Department staff met with stakeholders in early October and letters were sent to 40 stakeholders and other interested parties.
I'd like to se a list of these stakeholders to whom TPWD reached out. I'd guess the Sweetwater Jaycees were on that list; they seem to have a powerful lobby.

I'd anticipate a regulation carefully worded to allow certain groups to still be allowed to use this (already illegal) method of take. If that's the case, it seems it would be a simple matter to bring about a lawsuit against TPWD itself for contravening Federal law.

However, as I mentioned we appear to have people disregarding existing law. We'll probably get this additional law, which practically speaking is unnecessary, and it will be ignored just like the existing one.

The problem will then become glaringly obvious: enforcement individuals and judicial system willfully choosing not to enforce the law, because it's going to fall upon...who? County officials charged with enforcing. I wouldn't be surprised if many of these officials are also heavily involved with the roundups (e.g. also members of the Jaycees).

Do I think it's because these officials are all terrible people? NO. But they will have a definite conflict of interest, and in their mind I suspect they will actually be doing the right thing by looking the other way. After all, in their eyes the roundups have a net benefit--scholarships for local teens, tourism and a HUGE boost to the economy.


THAT is why I think we are wanting the correct outcome (the end of rattlesnake roundups as we know them) but going about it entirely the wrong way. You cannot proverbially rip the rug out from under this "economic stimulus" and expect its supporters to blindly accept it. A better approach is to play up the conservation aspect (believe it or not, that IS part of the daily programs at Sweetwater--although it's primarily geared towards identification of various species so as not to target nonvenomous ones), that there's a "right way" and "wrong way" to capture snakes, to encourage "photo and release" for the tours rather than providing participants with pump sprayers, and perhaps find ways to help the Jaycees portray the actual "roundup" aspect of the event as a historical "we used to do THIS, but now we do THIS" progression towards a more "modern" way of thinking about rattle- and other snakes.

Instead, the herping community chooses to "oppose rattlesnake roundups." Again, that's good, but I think it's an ineffective approach because it ignores most of why the roundups exist in their current format.

Imagine for a moment that there will always be some sort of "event" in Sweetwater, for example--it's just too big an economic draw to be eliminated. Therefore, work to change it from a "rattlesnake roundup" to a "rattlesnake festival." There can still be snakes displayed, but the lethal aspect (killing/eating, gassing) would be eliminated. It becomes a celebration of living snakes, not dead ones.

Shoot, I'm not even sold on eliminating the chance to eat a rattlesnake. Just make each person wishing to do so buy the new herp stamp... ;)

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Re: Texas Parks and Wildlife considers Ban on Gassing Snakes

Post by Mark Brown » December 7th, 2012, 4:56 am

Well said, Chris. I get the impression that, at least in Texas, TPWD considers roundups as currently practiced to be sustainable harvest, and I don't think there's been significant evidence presented to the contrary. Considering the economic impact that these events have in some of the little burgs where they're held, someone is going to have to come up with some pretty solid scientific evidence that there's a negative impact on atrox populations before there's even consideration of banning them. And even with solid evidence, it will still be a tough thing to make happen. I think it's just something that will eventually go away through education of the public and changing of overall attitudes toward nature and the environment......at least I hope it will.

Personally, I doubt that many herp people lose any sleep over the idea of gas on the ground.....it's just a potential tool to use against the roundup participants, and nothing wrong with that. In reality, there's probably more gasoline leaked into the soil in one day's worth of car wrecks than in the entire history of rattlesnake roundups. So, while technically illegal and certainly a really bad idea, I wouldn't expect the EPA or anyone else to actively pursue it.

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Re: Texas Parks and Wildlife considers Ban on Gassing Snakes

Post by chris_mcmartin » December 7th, 2012, 5:47 am

I have a copy of the local Sweetwater newspaper's "special rattlesnake roundup" edition which features an informative graphic on exactly how to use a gasoline pump sprayer to flush out snakes. I should scan it and post it. It's not merely a case of "looking the other way;" clearly it's advocated as an acceptable means of take, at least at the local level.

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Re: Texas Parks and Wildlife considers Ban on Gassing Snakes

Post by chris_mcmartin » December 7th, 2012, 1:43 pm

According to the EPA, a "spill" of one gallon of gasoline can contaminate up to a million gallons of drinking water. I wonder what the consequences of intentional spraying are...

Also,
EPA Website wrote:Where do I report a possible violation of environmental laws or regulations?

Fill out the form at epa.gov/tips. If you don't have Internet access, call the EPA office in your area of the country.

http://www.epa.gov/epahome/violations.htm#report

It basically says contact your local authorities first. I think we know what the local authorities will do...nothing. In that case, TCEQ would be the next step. I'd imagine they'd also turn a blind eye. Keep going up the chain of command until somebody takes notice.

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Re: Texas Parks and Wildlife considers Ban on Gassing Snakes

Post by Shane_TX » December 7th, 2012, 9:10 pm

According to the EPA, a "spill" of one gallon of gasoline can contaminate up to a million gallons of drinking water. I wonder what the consequences of intentional spraying are...
The EPA is probably the best avenue and they have bigger fish to fry.
In that case, TCEQ would be the next step.
Not a good step! The TCEQ deals with spills amounting to multiple gallons, not spraying. TCEQ is also oriented toward civil issues, not criminal.
Keep going up the chain of command until somebody takes notice.
It's already a TPWD issue and not a priority.
I have a copy of the local Sweetwater newspaper's "special rattlesnake roundup" edition which features an informative graphic on exactly how to use a gasoline pump sprayer to flush out snakes. I should scan it and post it. It's not merely a case of "looking the other way;" clearly it's advocated as an acceptable means of take, at least at the local level.
How to proceed and fund the civil suit against that local paper? Possibly more worthwhile to challenge the TPWD with EPA and TCEQ evidence.

It would be interesting to know how Oklahoma managed to make gassing illegal and the TPWD cannot do that.

Shane

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Re: Texas Parks and Wildlife considers Ban on Gassing Snakes

Post by Brian Hubbs » December 7th, 2012, 10:00 pm

I wonder if the ban will have any effect on my new pick-up line for women..."Hi, can you tell me if this rag smells like chloroform?" :lol: :lol: :lol:

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