Feds don’t protect rattlers

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Despite efforts from a partnership of wildlife conservation groups and a leading snake researcher, the Eastern diamondback rattlesnake escaped placement on the endangered species list – at least for now.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released its Candidate Notice of Review, a yearly appraisal of the current status of plants and animals considered candidates for protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

When the partnership announced in August it would seek to place the snake on the list, citing habitat destruction and “rattlesnake roundups” like the Opp Rattlesnake Rodeo as reasons for the demise of the snake, it was met with opposition from a variety of locals including an Opp woman whose son died from multiple rattlesnake bites, and Opp City Planner Don Childre.

On Tuesday Childre said he wasn’t surprised to find out that the Eastern Diamondback wasn’t on the list.

“The reality of the issue is that it’s not endangered,” he said. “I’ve been saying that all along. All these do-gooders want to say we’ve done away with them. We hunt on 88 acres, and that’s about a day’s hunt, and there are 88,000 acres. So there is no way I can be convinced that we are hurting them.”

Childre is active in the city of Opp’s largest crowd-drawing event, the Rattlesnake Rodeo, which draws attention to the snake and focuses on safety.

Three species have been removed from candidate status and three have been added, and seven have a change in priority from the last review conducted last November.

The three new candidate species are the bracted twistflower, native to Texas; the Poweshiek skipperling, native to the Midwest region; and the magnificent ramshorn, native to North Carolina.

“The candidate list offers the service and our partners a unique opportunity to address the threats to these species through voluntary conservation efforts on public and private lands,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “We will continue developing conservation strategies and programs that guide these conservation efforts and provide predictability to landowners undertaking action to conserve non-listed species.”