Curmudgeon's Corner

cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner

I Know There's Room For Everything, But...

Potpourri, Wisconsin

A story in the morning newspaper caught my eye.  It discussed the 'shortage' of rattlesnakes in western Wisconsin.  I grew up in Vernon County that parallels the Mississippi River in some of the most beautiful 'glacier-free' land in our state.  We have eagles and we have rattlesnakes and lots of things in between...including feral pigs that top 300 or 400 pounds.

But, I just have a hard time imagining that we're going to try to raise the rattlesnake population.

As a kid, I recall the hunters who would periodically bring the rattles from all the rattlesnakes they'd killed to the County offices in Viroqua to be paid the bounty then in vogue.  My recollection was that the bounty then was $0.50 each...a lot of money sixty years ago for the hardscrabble farmers and trappers and fishermen who had the most opportunities to find rattlesnakes.  Believe it or not, that would buy two gallons of gasoline at the time, and the people who earned the bounty would have 50 or more rattler tails with rattles when they came "to town". 

The beautiful bluffs that had been eroded by the Mississippi River over the centuries were the home to thousands and thousands and thousands of rattlesnakes.  If we were ever to go near those bluffs, we were reminded about rattlesnakes and where they'd likely be found and what to do to avoid being bitten.  If you were going to be hiking along those bluffs, you knew that heavy leather boots that laced very high were the order of the day.

So, this story reminded me of the men and boys I used to see on that day each month when the bounty was available.  Once in awhile, my friends and I would ride bikes to the Courthouse to see if we could catch a glimpse of the snake hunters, because we couldn't quite imagine what it must've taken to walk right up to one with the stick they used to pin them down at the head.

I knew we had timber rattlers, and I thought we had diamondbacks but I don't recall the Massasauga rattlers that are mentioned in this article.

At any rate, the idea that we spend tax dollars to try to add some rattlesnakes to the state is a little difficult for me to comprehend.

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