24,262 pounds of rattlesnake were harvested and sold in Sweetwater, Texas this past weekend (March 2016) at the 58th annual rattlesnake round-up.
The Sweetwater Jaycees (producers of the event) had to call off the buying of the snakes when their funds got tapped out near the quarter million dollar mark.
Snake hunters enjoyed a $10 per pound bounty on their catch. That’s a lot of money when you consider you can buy good quality beef ribeye in that part of Texas for the same price.
Speaking on the insane amount of snakes that were captured and killed, Leah Andrews, the executive director for The Sweetwater and Nolan County Chamber of Commerce said “We had a moist fall and winter, plus the rain. And then (winter) was mild, so there were more mice in the field for them to eat. They were also very heavy snakes.”
Roughly 35,000 people attended this years event. The normal population of Sweetwater is closer to 10k.
In the face of all this success though one wonders how long the round-up will continue to exist? Currently the way the snake-hunters ply their trade is via ‘gassing’ the holes the rattlers live in. Gassing is just that; pouring gasoline down into the dens of the beasts whereupon the snake heads for the high country and into the waiting grasp of the hunters.
Trouble is, a laundry list of creatures share those burrows that are rendered uninhabitable: Mice, rats, skunks, badgers, and groundhogs among them. Conservationists are not happy with ‘gassing’ and are attempting to get Texas Parks and Wildlife to initiate a ban on the practice.