Advocates for Snake Preservation

Contact:

Melissa Amarello
Advocates for Snake Preservation
(520) 333-6957

Advocates for Snake Preservation Urge Arizona Legislators to Stop Reckless Firearm Bill

TUCSON, Ariz., January 30 2017 – A group of biologists and conservationists is calling on Arizona legislators to stop dangerous legislation that would allow shooting at snakes, rats, and other animals in populated areas.

Sitting near a western diamondback rattlesnake

Western diamondbacks and other rattlesnake have no interest in attacking people. This and other photos available for media use, see below.

HB 2022, “Unlawful discharge of firearms; exception,” was introduced by Rep. Jay Lawrence (R-Scottsdale) to change the state’s current firearm legislation that prohibits shooting guns within city limits. Under the proposed amendment, it would be legal to shoot with “pellets that are 1.3 millimeters or less in diameter and that are loaded in a rimfire cartridge with a caliber that does not exceed twenty-two hundredths of an inch.”

Advocates for Snake Preservation (ASP), a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the way people view and treat snakes, is urging the state legislature to reject the amendment. The group is gaining the public’s support via a petition and letters at www.LivingWithSnakes.org.

ASP’s coalition contends that this legislation could result in more snakebites since it encourages people to approach potentially dangerous animals. Most bites happen when handling or attempting to kill snakes; even snakes thought to be dead have bitten when handled or picked-up.

“This poorly conceived legislation threatens public safety two times over, first by encouraging more shooting in populated areas, and second by provoking people to approach venomous snakes,” said Melissa Amarello, biologist and cofounder of ASP. “This exception is not solely limited to snakes and rats, nor does it specify shooting only in cases of an imminent threat to public safety. There are far better ways to manage wildlife conflicts than this irresponsible proposal.”

“This bill threatens public safety and portrays Arizona as a lawless wild west, a reputation that has made our state a target of ridicule in popular media,” said Leigh Moyer, an Arizona native and resident of Tucson who opposes HB 2022. “Arizona’s economy depends on tourism and growth, and I think families would reconsider visiting or moving to a state where it’s acceptable to shoot at animals where children are playing.”

ASP and its coalition also say this legislation runs afoul of conservation efforts. Many people are not able to discern a common species from protected or endangered ones, and ASP notes that killing snakes may increase populations of their prey animals, including rodents.

If a snake is spotted, ASP advises the public to walk away, without approaching, and if necessary, contact an expert for assistance.

For more information, visit www.LivingWithSnakes.org.

About Advocates for Snake Preservation

ASP promotes compassionate conservation and coexistence with snakes through science, education, and advocacy. ASP identifies and addresses threats to snakes, conducts research, and dispels myths and misinformation about snakes. Snakes are threatened by many of the same issues that affect all wildlife, including habitat loss, climate change, and disease, but negative attitudes toward snakes may be the biggest barrier to their conservation because it often impedes efforts to address other threats. ASP was founded in 2014 and is based in Tucson, Arizona. For more information visit www.snakes.ngo.

These photos are available for media use:

These videos are available for media use:

Rattlesnakes have friends.

Male rattlesnakes may court females for days or weeks.

Even fights are non-violent and rarely result in injury.