Lawmakers block gassing of rattlesnakes

Georgia’s rattlesnakes will be safe from being gassed under legislation given final approval Tuesday.

The House voted 152-15 to send Senate Bill 322 to Gov. Nathan Deal's desk.

If signed into law, the bill would make it illegal to use “explosives, chemicals, electrical or mechanical devices, or smokers” to drive snakes out of a hole in order to catch them.

In practice, Rep. Jay Roberts, R-Ocilla, said, the bill would protect the state's gopher tortoises, which often share burrows with the snakes. It's a common pastime in South Georgia, Roberts said, to try to catch rattlesnakes, but hunters often use gasoline or other noxious gases to drive snakes out of the holes. The practice threatens the turtles, which are nearing federal endangered species status.