The controversial practice of wrangling snakes using gasoline may soon end in Texas, a state where rattlesnakes are both feared and prized for their venom and meat. Wildlife officials in the state are considering banning the use of gas fumes to capture the animals, in the wake of Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma, all of which have outlawed it.
The proposed ban was sparked by a petition signed by 57 zoologists and others that said the technique is cruel, according to the New York Times.
Officials at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said the goal of the ban would be to protect other species in the vicinity that may be exposed to the harsh fumes, citing a 1989 study that showed a half-hour exposure can kill amphibians and reptiles.
"I liken this to fishing with dynamite," John Davis, director of the department's wildlife diversity program, told the Times. "It's about a means of take, a means of collection."
Some Texans oppose the ban, saying that snakes can pose a danger to people and pets. They cite the annual snake roundup at a festival in Sweetwater, which reported 254,000 pounds of diamondbacks. But while supporters say it brings an economic boon to the area, opponents say it's cruel.