One popular and controversial method of hunting rattlesnakes won't be leaving Texas any time soon.
Rob McCann is a big part of the annual Sweetwater Rattlesnake Round-Up every March in West Texas. This past year, he gathered about 200 rattlesnakes. Many of these captures involve the use of a "fuming" process.
"We just use the fumes from gasoline - 2 to 4 ounces," McCann recently told The Register-Herald. "We put it into a pump-up sprayer. It actually intoxicates them, almost."
Unfortunately for McCann, not everyone agrees with his method of capturing the snakes. In fact, 29 states have already banned the practice of "gassing" rattlesnakes. Now Texas is considering the different ways to regulate and control the practice. That's why McCann was nervous when a proposal to ban the practice made its way into the hands of the Texas Parks and Wildlife commissioners.
Proponents of the ban say that the snakes offer a lot of value to the environment. Another concern is this approach can harm other animals that share the same burrows with the hunted rattlesnake. They argue that there are other ways to hunt rattlesnakes that don't cause as much collateral damage.
On the flip side, those in favor of the "gassing" process say that banning this practice will not allow them to adequately hunt the snakes. In turn, this could limit the number of events like the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Round-Up. This will ultimately affect the economy, since these events bring around $1 million into their communities.
However, there are other towns out there who are currently making changes to their annual rattlesnake events. Instead of hunting, killing and eating the snakes, many towns are now focusing on more of a conservation approach. They say that this allows them to bring people outside the hunting community and has had little impact on the amount of money they bring in.
For now, the argument will remain on hold. The Texas Parks and Wildlife commissioners plan to meet next week, but this topic will not be on the agenda.