WARNING: the following video is graphic and violent – it shows what happens at a rattlesnake roundup.
Each year, tens of thousands of rattlesnakes are taken from the wild to be displayed and slaughtered for entertainment and profit at rattlesnake roundups. Professional hunters, not bound by ‘bag’ or ‘take’ limits, remove snakes from their native habitats and are awarded with cash prizes for bringing in the most and biggest snakes. Most snakes are caught by pouring gasoline into their winter dens, which pollutes surrounding land and water and may impact up to 350 other wildlife species.Science does not support claims that roundups are required to prevent rattlesnake overpopulation. Like other wild animals with natural predators, snake populations are maintained by prey abundance (rodents) and levels of predation and disease. Unlike traditional game hunting, there is no monitoring or reporting to regulate this slaughter of snakes, which has likely contributed to the decline in some rattlesnake species (learn more).
In early March, we launched our campaign to Stop Snake Slaughter at Rattlesnake Roundups. Together with photojournalist Jo-Anne McArthur of WeAnimals, we documented the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup and used that information to change the conversation in mainstream media from repeating propaganda from roundup proponents to an accurate portrayal of these events as controversial (see here, here, here, and here for examples).Concurrently, the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup collected and slaughtered a record number of snakes, more than 21,000.
MORE THAN 21,000 RATTLESNAKES WERE SLAUGHTERED AT A SINGLE ROUNDUP
Our work here has only just begun.
Most are still unaware of what happens at rattlesnake roundups, that they are based on misinformation, that rattlesnakes do not deserve this treatment, and that there are alternatives that do not harm wildlife or local economies that depend on these festivals.
So ASP is joining forces with 2A1L Productions to produce a feature-length documentary: Rounding Up Sweetwater. This film will debunk both the pseudo-science used to justify roundups as well as negative stereotypes about rattlesnakes used to demonize them. But perhaps most importantly, we will show there’s a better way, that it is possible to stop slaughtering snakes without losing their festivals or the income they generate.
(This article originally appeared on ASP. It has been reprinted here with permission.)