The Evans County Wildlife Club in Claxton is expecting around 15,000 people for its 45th annual Rattlesnake and Wildlife Festival. But, for the first time no Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes will be rounded up and killed.
The Club will instead feature live snakes and other wildlife. In recent years organizers came under increasing pressure to stop catching and killing the snakes. Recent studies show their populations are declining.
South Georgia resident Bill Matturo founded the snake advocacy group, Protect All Living Species. He says just two Eastern Diamondback roundups, one in Alabama and another in Whigham, Georgia remain.
“We submitted a petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake as threatened in its range, and that will eventually, if they don’t recover, they would go to an endangered status.”
The Eastern Diamondback is the largest rattlesnake in the world and helps control rodent populations.