big rattlesnake surprise waiting for me.
This morning I got another email from Leo. I don't know if this is the promised surprise.
Leo's email included an attached PDF file.
Leo seems to be very upset about the Sweetwater rattlesnake reptilicide. The message in Leo's email appears to have been written by someone other than Leo. I left the misspellings intact.
Below is the text in Leo's email, followed by the PDF.....
We are sending this letter to as many US. government officals and staff as we can, in order to expose the cruellest and most savage animal spectacle on the planet.
The Rattlesnake Roundup includes, amongst other things, children being encouraged to witness Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes being beheaded or skinned alive, for a very damming report please click onto the lower link (in the event of this article being pulled, please see attached). Scroll down and you will read about girl scouts cajoled into selling tickets on the gates and even the National Parks' authorities, those who should be their protectorates, siding with the killers, and they will even assist to supply the snakes, letters received confirms this.
The entire show is the ultimate in man's depravity against another creature and we have here a situation where an entire town is in on it; municipal authorities, local businesses, shops, hotels, restaurants and the media right up to Animal Planet TV. Every sorry last one of them sponsoring, supporting and glorifying one the most sordid of events anywhere.
There's not a life-form on God's Earth that deserves this degree of contempt, cruelty and humiliation. Please view the two links below and you will read about the obscenities that I'm talking about.
There is only one outcome that would bring any justice at all, and that would be an outright ban on all Rattlesnake Roundups as well as full protection for them as species. Please do anything you can to make this happen; take this letter into the senate, forwar d it on to anyone you think might be interested and let's give these snakes a voice the likes of which they've never had before.
And now the PDF....
Sweetwater rattler roundup corrals fun by the gross
By Colin McDonald
SWEETWATER — The snake was beheaded, gutted and skinned Saturday morning. But that afternoon its quarter-sized heart was still beating as it lay atop a folding table at the 54th annual Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup.
For 13-year-old Alexander Kirk, it was about as good as a birthday party could get. “At first it felt soft like a lump of Jell-O,” he said of the heart on display at the snake-skinning demonstration booth. “Then it got hard.”
With more than 1,200 pounds of western diamondbacks to be milked, skinned and gutted, there was not a dull moment for Kirk or the thousands of others who came to the event at the Nolan County Coliseum.
Wearing boots and snake chaps with the cuffs sealed to their ankles with fluorescent duct tape, the sponsoring Sweetwater Jaycees shuffled through the piles of slithering snakes in the pits as crowds watched.
They used hooked rods to lift up the largest snakes to show them off before the animals were taken to the milking station and then to be skinned.
“The people who live around here don't like snakes,” explained Roy Johnson, a game warden for the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. This year's roundup, which draws snakes collected from across West Texas, was not nearly as productive as years past. The record was set in 1982, with 17,986 pounds collected.
But after a yearlong drought and the worst fire season on record, there were simply not as many snakes to gather, Johnson said.
Texas does not keep records of what impact roundups have on snake populations. And there is controversy over how the snakes are collected.
Johnson and others at the roundup said the most effective way to collect snakes is to gas them out of their burrows. The gas is usually the fumes of unleaded gasoline pumped through a sprayer.
“It's not the gas, it's just the smell of it,” said Mike Glass, a senior member of the Jaycees. “Actually shooting gas down in there is a big no-no.”
The problem is snakes are very sensitive to even a small exposure to gas as a liquid, and too much can kill them in their dens. The snakes that do come out often die soon after. TPWD is considering a rule to ban gassing.
“If the snake is gassed, it no longer acts like a snake,” said Ken Darnell, who has purchased the snake venom from the roundup for the past 15 years.
The venom is frozen and used to make antivenin and for medical research. A good snake can earn the Jaycees $5 to $10 worth of venom.
Darnell does not like gassing because it shortens the life of the snakes, he said. But as all the snakes at the roundup are milked just once before being butchered for their skin and meat, that does not really matter. And if there was no gassing, the roundup would not have enough snakes, Glass said.
For Sweetwater, that would be tragic, said 16-year-old Kayla Chowning, who was crowned Miss Snake Charmer on Thursday night.
“It's a big deal,” she said of the festival, which also includes a carnival and rides. “It brings business to town.”
The money raised by the weekend event — $40,000 to $50,000 — goes to local charities and scholarships, organizers say.
For those who don't have regular exposure to rattlesnakes, it's also a chance to realize that your natural instinct to just leave snakes alone is best.
“You've got to respect them,” Johnson said. “If you don't, they will get you.”
For Mary Lee Boyer from Pennsylvania, who came to the show with her husband despite her fear of snakes, that lesson was obvious.
“Y'all are weird down here in Texas no matter what,” she said. “Normal people are back home. We don't play with things that are dangerous.”