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Letter to the editor
Columnist way off base in ignorance of snakes
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Forsyth County News


The Georgia Master Naturalist training program featured in the FCN on March 11 (Page 5C) was timely and important. This volunteer program of UGA Extension trains and educates the public about the value of natural habitats contributing to our quality of life. These programs improve and protect wildlife habitats from encroachment of “civilization.” Foresight and planning allow progress and growth while protecting nature. The need is nowhere more evident than on page 3C in the same issue.

The “poisonous” snake article suggested a spoof, but the punch line never came. In fact, the article ends by extending the indiscriminate killing of snakes to animals, people, and politicians that may be dangerous, annoying, or running for office!
If actually a serious article, it demonstrates the ignorance facing the trainees in the naturalist program. It is certainly a naturalist’s version of radical extremism. The author and family kill with shovel and hoe all snakes encountered as they come out in the spring and are easy pickings for these “courageous” snake hunters.

Perhaps now game wardens can find and fine them by Georgia State Law (Official Code of Georgia 27-1-28), which forbids taking of all snakes except “poisonous” ones that remain unprotected. Georgia has four kinds of unprotected venomous snakes (that can inject venom): rattlesnakes, the copperhead, the cottonmouth, and the coral snake, and 36 protected (non-venomous) ones.

Throughout the Southeast, former “rattlesnake roundups” have transitioned to wildlife festivals celebrating and educating the public about the diversity and protection of all wildlife. The snake hunters themselves saw the decline in snakes and other animals from overhunting and supported these changes like hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts as well.

This does not mean that venomous snakes should not be controlled near areas of human activity. Indiscriminate destruction glorified here harks back to when “chicken hawks” were shot and nailed to fences and is distinctly out of step with modern sensibilities about caring for the natural world.

Camm and Judith Ann Swift