Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, March 3, 2017

Contact: Collette Adkins, (651) 955-3821;

Thousands Push Texas to Ban Harmful Wildlife 'Gassing'

Endangered Species, Nontarget Animals Die Alongside Targeted Snakes

AUSTIN, Texas— The Center for Biological Diversity today submitted a petition with more than 5,400 signatures asking Texas wildlife officials to ban the harmful practice of using gasoline and other toxic substances to hunt rattlesnakes.

Commonly called “gassing,” this indiscriminate hunting method harms habitats and nontarget wildlife, including federally endangered species that inhabit holes and crevices along with rattlesnakes. Texas is one of the last states where gassing is still legal.

“It's indefensible that Texas still allows gassing to hunt wildlife,” said Collette Adkins, a scientist and attorney at the Center. “Using toxins to hunt rattlers risks contaminating groundwater and hurts hundreds of other animals, including 20 endangered species also living underground in the state.”

When snake hunters in Texas pour gasoline or other toxic substances into holes and crevices, the fumes and drowning effect of the gasoline force the dazed and poisoned snakes from their homes, where they can be captured by hunters. Gassing harms a wide variety of animals not intended to be hurt, including endangered cave invertebrates and charismatic burrowing owls. Along with risking contamination of groundwater, gassing may also ignite a fire or explosion. And snakes doused with gas cannot be safely eaten, posing a human health risk.

“Not just snakes, but foxes, burrowing owls and toads can be killed when snake dens are gassed,” said Adkins. “Texas needs to stop caving to pressure from rattlesnake hunters and ban this outdated and harmful practice.”

Gassing is commonly used by Texas hunters targeting western diamondback rattlesnakes for rattlesnake roundups, such as the one being held later this month in Sweetwater, Texas. Because alternative hunting methods are available, a ban on gassing would not end rattlesnake roundups in Texas.

In March of last year, the Center for Biological Diversity, Texas Snake Initiative and several Texas residents submitted a formal rulemaking petition to the state Parks and Wildlife Department to ban gassing. In response to that petition, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission in May directed the department to develop a proposed rule to prohibit gassing with a two-year delay on the effective date.

But rather than finalize the proposed rule, officials with the politically appointed commission removed the issue from the November meeting agenda, and the department informed the petitioners that Texas would not be moving forward with a rulemaking.

Most states across the country — including all states bordering Texas — have banned wildlife gassing. If today's outpouring of support prompts Texas Parks and Wildlife to amend the rules setting allowable methods for taking nongame wildlife in Texas, Texas would be the 30th state to ban gassing.

Western diamondback rattlesnake

Western diamondback rattlesnake photo by Clinton and Charles Robertson. This image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.2 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

More press releases