Gassing as a Means to Collect Rattlesnakes
Frequently Asked Questions
Update 1/26/17: In December 2014, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) convened a Snake Harvest Working Group (SHWG) to delve into this issue. The SHWG was comprised of individuals with highly divergent perspectives. Twelve individuals representing rattlesnake roundup promoters, economic development professionals, medical professionals, wildlife biologists, university scientists, herpetologists, snake collectors, ranchers and landowners participated in the working group. The SHWG met four times between December 2014 and September 2015. During these meetings, expertise and correspondence from the antivenin and venom research industry was incorporated into discussions in addition to the expertise that each SHWG member provided. The final report from this group was presented to the TPWD Commission on January 20, 2016. At their May 25, 2016 meeting, the Commission requested that staff prepare language for a proposed rule addressing gassing. The proposed rule was removed from the November 2016 meeting because at this point there is not enough support from either the community or legislative oversight for the department to move forward with regulating the use of gasoline to collect rattlesnakes. TPWD staff still believe that there are better options for collecting snakes that do not adversely impact non-target species, and we will continue to work to develop and implement best practices that reduce potential impacts to these species.
For more information, contact John Davis at email@example.com.
Downloads: Snake Harvest Working Group Report
- Why is TPWD scoping this issue?
- Gassing is an indiscriminate means of take. TPWD is concerned about the impact of gassing on wildlife and habitat, particularly on non-target organisms, including rare karst (cave/crevice-dwelling) invertebrates that inhabit caves and crevices along with rattlesnakes
- Does this mean that commercial rattlesnake collection and roundups will be outlawed? Is TPWD trying to shut down rattlesnake roundups?
- No. TPWD is simply scoping the impacts of this particular means of collection.
- Many rattlesnake events currently discourage the collection of snakes by gassing, and several organizers have expressed a desire to work cooperatively with TPWD and snake collectors to promote safe and effective collection practices.
- Doesn't gassing control rattlesnake populations? Won't we be overrun by rattlesnakes if gassing is banned?
- There are no studies suggesting that rattlesnakes will become overabundant in the absence of this means of collection.
- How will venom suppliers obtain sufficient quantities of venom for research and antivenin production if gassing is banned?
- Most rattlesnake venom used in medical research and the production of antivenin is produced by laboratories that maintain captive colonies of rattlesnakes and do not rely on venom obtained from gassed snakes.
- What is Texas Parks and Wildlife's position regarding public input on this issue?
- TPWD believes strongly in public review and input on important decisions, including nongame regulations.
- We are working hard to gather input about this issue, to listen and be responsive, to answer questions and provide information. We have contacted (and continue to correspond with) elected officials, nongame permit holders, and key stakeholder groups about the issue. Since 2010, TPWD staff has met with stakeholders, surveyed nongame permit holders, and continues to correspond with interested parties about this issue.
- We are committed to a process that will allow all parties to ask questions, voice opinions and fully understand the issue, and we believe our current approach achieves this.