Local News

State Wildlife Commission Wants To Protect Poisonous Snakes

Posted February 16, 2000 6:00 a.m. EST

— Snakes might rattle your nerves and send chills up your spine, but theN.C. Wildlife Resources Commissionwants to give state protection to some of the slithering creatures.

The commission held a public meeting Thursday to debate whether to add coral snakes and eastern diamondback rattlesnakes to the endangered list, and Carolina pygmy and timber rattlesnakes as species of special concern.

Under the protection, the snakes could only be taken out into the wild for educational or research purposes. Breeders argue the proposal would label them criminals, without attacking the biggest threat to the species.

"We do need to protect the snakes," says Jerry Brewer, a Wilmington zookeeper. "We all know development is second only to car fatalities."

Supporters say the population of the snakes has declined dramatically over the last few years. They say classifying them as endangered or species of special concern is the first step to ensure their future.

"These animals don't breed in great numbers so taking any out of the wild does have an impact on the population," says David Davenport, a snake expert.

The Wildlife Resources Commission will not make a final decision until spring. If they endorse the proposal, it will take effect in April 2001.