Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, March 9, 2016

Contact:  Collette Adkins, (651) 955-3821;

Ban Sought on Harmful 'Gassing' of Texas Wildlife

AUSTIN, Texas— The Center for Biological Diversity, Texas Snake Initiative and several Texas residents today filed a formal petition asking the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to ban the harmful practice of using gasoline and other toxic substances to hunt rattlesnakes in Texas. Commonly called “gassing,” this indiscriminate hunting method harms habitats and non-target wildlife, including federally endangered species that inhabit holes and crevices along with rattlesnakes.

Western diamondback rattlesnake
Western diamondback rattlesnake photo by Clinton and Charles Robertson. This photo is available for media use.

“It’s indefensible that Texas still allows gassing to hunt wildlife,” said Collette Adkins, a scientist and attorney at the Center. “Using toxins to hunt rattlers risks contaminating groundwater and harms hundreds of other animals, including 20 endangered species, that also live underground in Texas.”

Snake hunters in Texas can legally pour gasoline or other toxic substances into holes and crevices. The fumes and drowning effect of the gasoline force the dazed and poisoned snakes from their homes, where they can be captured by hunters.

Gassing harms a wide variety of non-target animals, including endangered cave invertebrates and charismatic animals like burrowing owls. The effects of gasoline make habitat unsuitable for wildlife long after the rattlesnakes are collected. Along with risking the contamination of groundwater, gassing may also ignite a fire or explosion. Snakes doused with gas cannot be safely eaten, posing a human-health risk.

“Not just snakes, but foxes, burrowing owls, toads and hundreds of insects can be killed when snake dens are gassed,” said Adkins. “Texas needs to ban this outdated and harmful practice.”

Gassing is commonly used by Texas hunters targeting western diamondback rattlesnakes for rattlesnake roundups, such as the one to be held this weekend in Sweetwater, Texas. Because of the availability of alternative hunting methods, a ban on gassing would not end rattlesnake roundups in Texas.

More than 1,600 Texas residents added their names to a letter of support for today’s petition. Most states across the country — including all of the states bordering Texas — have banned gassing of wildlife. If today’s petition prompts Texas Parks and Wildlife to amend the rules setting allowable methods for taking nongame wildlife in Texas, Texas would be the 30th state to ban gassing.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 990,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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