PHOENIX - A bill making its way through the Arizona House of Representatives would let people shoot snakes and rats in populated areas, as long as they used the proper ammunition.
House Bill 2022, introduced by Rep. Jay Lawrence (R-Scottsdale), would make it legal to shoot the animals with .22 calibre bird or rat shot.
The bill already has criticism from animal rights groups. The Arizona Herpetological Society has come out against the bill, arguing that killing snakes would increase the rodent population, since snakes primarily eat rodents.
"They didn't think out the problem," Russ Johnson of the Herpetological Society said.
The bill also faces problems in its implementation. Four different species of snakes in Arizona qualify for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Four other species also have state protections, making it illegal to shoot them outside of hunting season.
Rep. Lawrence said the bill is not aimed a snakes and rats, but rather a firearms bill. Lawrence claimed the ammunition he's specifying in the bill is "harmless."
The idea for the bill came from a constituent who wanted "more freedoms in regard to firearms," Lawrence said Monday.
"It's a firearms bill," Lawrence said, "It's not a bill that deals with harming snakes or rats or any other vermin, it merely is a firearms bill."
However, Lawrence said he would rather people have the ability to shoot a snake rather than wait for firefighters or animal control if they want.
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