To the Editor:
I read the article, “Spring is rattlesnake hunting time” in the Eagle (May 8). I am troubled by the thought of Bob Steinbruck finding 500 snakes in the past year. I want to know: Is he implying that he killed all those snakes? He describes the different ways of killing snakes. His treatment of rattlesnakes is the very mindset that has led to man-caused species extinctions. I grew up here in Grant County killing every rattlesnake I saw; however, after being bitten by one, I became intensely interested in them and photographed them from here to Latin America. I do not expect everyone to have the deep interest in rattlesnakes that I have, but at the very least, no one should be ignorant about their valid role in nature.
Steinbruck did not have some facts straight. It was stated that snakes shed their skins once a year including the rattle. Both points are wrong. Snakes can shed as many as four times a year depending upon the length of the season, and the age and growth rate of the specimen. The rattles do not shed, but with each shedding the snake gains a new segment of rattle. He goes on to say that the western diamondback rattlesnake is found in Arizona and Texas. That is so, but it is found in at least five more states. He says the timber rattlesnake is only found east of the Mississippi. They occur farther west of the Mississippi, for the only ones I have ever found and photographed were in east Texas.
I have to say that I probably haven’t found 500 rattlesnakes in my life, so I admire Steinbruck’s ability to find them. I agree that it makes sense to control rattlesnakes in your home environment. But in their natural home environment be alert, and if you fear rattlesnakes, don’t go where they live and don’t live where they belong. All living things interact to create a balance in nature — with the possible exception of man. All snakes, including rattlers, are a part of that balance.