To the editor:
As I read the various responses to the article about the rattlesnake, I was struck by the hysterical tone of the letters on both sides of the debate.
Rattlesnakes are not cute nor cuddly but the species encountered in most places in Utah and Colorado are also not aggressive.
The snake in question did what it was supposed to do when it sensed danger: rattle.
It did not bite, it rattled. And, had it been left alone, it would have slithered off because biting is a last resort; precious venom is better spent killing the rodents that comprise most of the diet of these beneficial animals.
I am not particularly fond of venomous snakes but I respect the important role they have in our ecosystems. The overkill of this animal that was reported was typical "Old West." I have yet to hear of a snake running someone down to bite him or her and kill him or her.
If you check snake bite statistics, the numbers in the southwest are quite low -- most snake bites occur when drunk young men in their 20s can't resist playing with venomous snakes; perhaps in an attempt to make it into this year's Darwin Awards.
If you encounter a snake, leave it alone. Snakes can only strike the distance of their bodies and would rather give humans (the world's most dangerous and unpredictable animals) a wide berth.
At issue for me is not this one snake but some of the prevailing attitudes toward all things wild. There seems to be a particular malice towards animals that can't be "tamed" such as rattlesnakes, wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, bears, badgers -- virtually anything wild that is deemed "useless" and/or "dangerous."
We are privileged to live in the part of the country that has some of the few remaining wild places. In order to preserve the integrity of these places, we need to understand the important role of all animals.
None of the people on either side of this issue want to live in the city or back east where there are few public lands. We need to respect these lands and the creatures that inhabit them and this includes the rattlesnake.