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Proposal to ban ‘gassing’ of rattlesnakes in Texas ignites backlash

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FORT WORTH, Texas — State wildlife officials are circling Texas seeking public views on banning the controversial but 6-decade-old use of gasoline fumes to drive hated rattlesnakes out of cracks, crevices and sinkholes, and into the clutches of hunters who enter them at rattler roundup contests with top prizes of $500 or sell them to dealers at $10 a pound or more.

Nowhere is the proposed rule change as emotive a topic than in Sweetwater, 192 miles west of Fort Worth, a town of 10,600 that swells to 35,000 during the “world’s largest rattlesnake roundup” each March. A ban could cripple the festival, predict officials, who say 80 percent of the snakes brought in are caught by gassing.

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