Board votes against legalizing rattlesnakes as pets

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Your neighbor won't be catching and keeping venomous snakes in Utah -- at least not legally.

Thursday, The Utah Wildlife Board voted against a proposal that would have allowed Utahns to have Great Basin rattlesnakes as pets if they got permits to keep snakes.

Board member Ernie Perkins said the board had received numerous comments against the proposal from the public and government entities.

"There [are] a lot of dangerous activities that go on in this state. Responsible people are going to do the right thing," said Draper resident Chuck Elliot. "This measure isn't going to keep knuckleheads from picking up a snake and putting it in a jar right now. It's not going to keep them from doing it in the future."

At the same time, very few snake enthusiasts voiced support for it.

Supporters had argued by having a permit, those who have rattlesnakes would be regulated for safety, unlike now, when people have them illegally.

In the end, safety concerns from the public swayed the board's vote against the proposal.

"The new rule contained numerous safeguards to keep the public safe," said Krissy Wilson, Native Aquatic Species Coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources. "But we completely understand why the public was nervous about the change and why the board voted against it ... The board wants to make sure people are safe. Keeping people safe is our main focus, too."

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