The Senate passed the "reptile bill" today, which creates regulations for hunters who want to collect snakes and toads along Texas highways.
Lawmakers unexpectedly outlawed collecting reptiles and amphibians along roadsides years ago, said Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, sponsor of the bill. Since then, hotels and rural communities in his district have reported losing millions in tourism dollars, he said. “We don’t want to kill the snakes and the horny toads along the roadway, but we want to allow those individuals who love to hunt these reptiles and amphibians … to do that along the roadside.”
The bill requires hunters to purchase a stamp from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to legally collect snakes and toads along the highway. Registered hunters could only collect the animals by nonlethal means, and would be required to wear reflective clothing while walking on the side of a highway. Uresti added an amendment that forbids collectors from using "an artificial light" to spot snakes and toads.
Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Southside Place, voiced concern: “Are you saying now for the entire state of Texas that if a person wants to ... put a snake in a bag or a frog in a bag that they need to be licensed and regulated?”
Uresti answered yes, because without regulation the practice is illegal: “Right now, it’s illegal for anyone to walk along the highway and capture a snake or capture a horny toad.”
Uresti also reassured Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen, who worried whether Texans would still be able to kill snakes in their backyards. “The specific point on this bill is along the highway,” he said.
After a few lighthearted jokes, the bill passed the Senate 25-6 and now moves back to the House for approval of an amendment added by Uresti.