by Logan Finney, Idaho Reports
The Idaho Senate approved a bill Tuesday to explicitly allow the killing of rattlesnakes. The bill moves to the governor for approval.
The bill lists rattlesnakes as a predatory species, in the same category as coyotes, skunks, raccoons and jackrabbits.
“Currently, reptiles are protected under the Fish and Game rules – which includes the western rattlesnake,” said bill sponsor Sen. Cindy Carlson, R-Riggins. “This legislation removes the prohibition on killing rattlesnakes.”
A few lawmakers – from both parties – spoke up in defense of the snakes.
“Yes, they’re predatory,” said Sen. Ron Taylor, D-Ketchum. “They will prey on rodents, and things that are smaller than them. They keep those populations in check.”
Sen. Rick Just, D-Boise, said that just like good government avoids managing people’s lives, it should avoid managing animals’ ecological niches.
“They have a job. I don’t want their job,” Just said.
Carlson said where she lives, however, rattlesnakes regularly show up in people’s yards – enough to be a danger to pets and children.
“Idaho’s people need the ability to kill them without the threat of a fine,” Carlson said.
A few lawmakers said they were hesitant about their votes, or supportive of the idea behind the bill but wary of any unintended consequences.
“I don’t want to have open season on snakes,” said Sen. Chris Trakel, R-Caldwell.
With a final count of 19-15-1, the Senate voted to send the legislation to Gov. Brad Little.
“House Bill 156 will slither back to the House,” quipped Lt. Gov. Scott Bedke, for procedural approval on its way to the governor’s desk.
Logan Finney | Associate Producer
Logan Finney is a North Idaho native with a passion for media production and boring government meetings. He grew up skiing, hunting and hiking in the mountains of Bonner County and has maintained a lifelong interest in the state’s geography, history and politics. Logan joined the Idaho Reports team in 2020 as a legislative session intern and stayed to cover the COVID-19 pandemic. He was hired as an associate producer in 2021 and they haven’t been able to get rid of him since.