An odd event takes place this weekend in Sweetwater, Texas. Or at least it would seem odd to most city folk who have never heard of such a thing. A rattlesnake roundup? What’s that? It’s an event whereby rattlesnake hunters round up as many rattlesnakes as they can as a means of population control. At the Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup, the largest such event in the world, an average of 5,000 pounds of rattlesnakes are collected and used for meat and various products. National Geographic has the peculiar story:
This particular event, ongoing since 1958, attracts about 30,000 people each year and has a reported economic impact of $5 million.
At each event, the snakes are measured, sexed and weighed for the state’s wildlife department for management purposes. Once skinned, the meat is cooked and the skins are made into belts, wallets, boots, and other products.
“It’s a really amazing event,” spokesman Riley Sawyers told the Abilene Reporter News. “People are interested in rattlesnakes. I think that’s what surprises me most.”
Some might frown on this practice, but Sawyers views the roundup as a management tool to help farmers keep rattlesnakes in check.
“It’s like any hunting,” he said. “It’s needed to control the population. It’s more about conservation than it is extermination.”
In case you’re planning to attend, you might be interested to know the Sweetwater event also features a parade, a Miss Snake Charmer pageant, carnival, flea market, and, if you have the stomach for it, a snake meat-eating contest.
We hear it tastes like chicken.