Letters: Taking the Snakes' Side

Linda Wertheimer reads e-mails from listeners. Many writers objected to a recent story on the annual rattlesnake roundup in Sweetwater, Texas, as callous and inhumane. Response was better to a reading of the essay "The Evening Train."

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

It's time for your letters.

Boy, did we get hissed at by you. Last week, Susan Stamberg spoke with snake wrangler Rodney Kinsey about the Sweetwater, Texas Rattlesnake Roundup. He said the snakes are captured and mostly killed each year to reduce the over-population of Diamondback rattlers in the region.

Michael Fuller of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee writes, The participants spend months collecting snakes from natural habitats. Many of these animals die of dehydration and over-crowding if they're kept in pits and trashcans without food or water, awaiting the big event. What's next, a heart warming send up of baby seal clubbing?

And Luca Criminaly(ph) of Leavenworth, Washington, writes, People may not like snakes, but they are an important part of the eco-system. I was sad to hear that folks in Texas are gratified by this activity. Snakes are beautiful critters and deserve a better fate than a novelty dinner plate. Ouch.

Also last week, Susan mentioned an essay written by Emily Kimbrough in the late 1920s called The Evening Train. The essay was about the town of Sunbury, Pennsylvania awaiting the bodies of their boys from war. Linda Christian Reid of Lake Tapps, Washington writes, The report made me think about all the families over the centuries who've waited for the return of their loved ones fallen in battle. How immediate those sacrifices are today.

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