To celebrate ASP’s fifth birthday, we’re sharing five inspiring stories with you — a new one each week through the end of 2019. Read them all here.

Snakes are threatened by the same issues that affect all wildlife (e.g., climate chaos, habitat loss), but negative attitudes may be the biggest barrier to their conservation because they impede our ability to address other threats.

Timber Rattlesnakes photographed by Harry Greene

Timber Rattlesnakes photographed by Harry Greene.

That is why we founded ASP. But that situation was something we’d only read about; we hadn’t actually seen a conservation project halted for this reason, until we got a call for help about a situation in Massachusetts.

Fear and misinformation surrounding a Timber Rattlesnake conservation project inspired legislation that would require any conservation efforts to be approved by the Massachusetts legislature. We reached out to local media and together with YOU, let the legislature know that science, not politics, should drive conservation. WE WON. The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife can continue to use the best available science to inform conservation and preserve wildlife.

A similar situation arose the following year in Arizona, when a change was proposed to a prohibition on shooting guns within city limits that would have allowed shooting at snakes and other small animals. There are safer and more effective ways to resolve wildlife conflicts than shooting in populated areas and this legislation would likely have resulted in more snakebites since it encouraged people to approach venomous snakes rather than leave them alone. Together we urged the Arizona legislature to reject this irresponsible legislation, and they did!

One of the swing voters read one of your letters because it inspired them to vote against this reckless legislation. Don’t ever think that your voice doesn’t matter because a single letter can make a difference and stop a bill that seemed certain to pass.