In 1994 a special NPS taskforce working undercover interdicted a supposed snake poaching ring that was purportedly stealing snakes from Big Bend NP and supplying reptile collectors and pet stores with the snakes.
Operation "Rockcut", so named because of the association of snakes along the roadway features, reported that on some nights possibly as many as 200 snakes were leaving the National Park. Whether or not this is the truth we may never know, many of the charges were dropped and the case has become somewhat of a misunderstood and little talked about issue.
We do know that on an average year people are coming to the park with the intentions to take snakes out of the park. However, it is hard for us to estimate just how many are being taken. Fortunately, for the snake population the number of roads that cross through the park are limited and park rangers now conduct nightime patrols; thus the chances are slim that poaching could threaten their existence here.
While visiting Big Bend National Park, please remember that feeding, molesting, collecting, or otherwise disturbing wildlife is not permissible. If you have an interest in snakes or other animals we appreciate your enthusiasm and would equally appreciate any information that you could provide about the whereabouts of certain species. Just remember that we do not allow handling of snakes or any other creature, nor do we allow spotlighting. Just like mom used to say "Look but don't touch".
Did You Know?
In 1935, Conrad Wirth, later the director of the National Park Service, said this of Persimmon Gap in Big Bend National Park, “There will probably always be a road from Marathon through . . . Persimmon Gap, which is a very fine and natural gateway to the Park.” More...