Eastern Diamondback May Get Endangered Status

Among all the things that could happen to a deer hunter in the woods, perhaps one of the most feared is getting bitten by a venomous snake far away from a vehicle or friend who could help.

By Alan Clemons, Managing Editor

Early-season bowhunters in the Southeast keep an eye out for rattlesnakes, copperheads and water moccasins. Coral snakes are a concern in some parts of the region. My pals in Texas call them buzzworms, among other names we can’t publish.

I’ve seen burly guys reduced to quivering Nannyboys when discussion turns to snakes encountered in the wild. Others don’t seem to mind a whit, finding a stick to either shoo away the serpent or beat the scales off their nasty heads. Shooting them might spook a turkey or deer, you know. Better to thrash the woods like a caveman beating a small dinosaur into submission.

Depending on the weather, it’s possible in the Southeast and Southwest to find rattlers still easing around in late autumn when there’s already snow and ice in northern states. Nighttime temps may be cooler and they’re searching for a little last sunshine before hibernation. They’re damn scary no matter when you find them.

Now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has initiated a status review for the Eastern Diamondback for possible protection under the Endangered Species Act.

According to the U.S. FWS, “Eastern diamondbacks can grow to a length of about eight feet and are the largest rattlesnakes in the world. The eastern diamondback historically ranged along the coastal lowlands of the southeastern United States from North Carolina to eastern Louisiana, including all of Florida and its Keys. Although once abundant in longleaf pine ecosystems across the southeastern United States, its population size and range has declined. Nearly all of the old growth longleaf pine savannas are gone, and the eastern diamondback survives wherever its native habitats still exist or where open-canopy forests and grasslands are similar to longleaf pine savannas.”

Should be interesting to see where this ends up.

Here’s another story about the move for possible ESA listing.

What do you think? Protect a species that, even though it’s venomous, could disappear without some help? Or are you in the “kill every snake that crawls” camp? Let us know!