Arizona Snakes & Rats Bill

prairie rattlesnake after it struck a boot by Guy Sagi


Arizona House Bill 2022, the so-called Arizona Snakes & Rats Bill—introduced by state Rep. Jay Lawrence—would make it legal to dispatch certain snakes and pests within city limits using .22 rimfire shotshells.

The measure’s wording would allow residents to use “Rat shot or snake shot that consists of pellets that are 1.3 millimeters or less in diameter and that are loaded in a rimfire cartridge with a caliber that does not exceed twenty-two hundredths of an inch.” CCI produces versions of that load, and their #12 shot slips just under the maximum-size restriction. The ammunition doesn’t generate enough energy to cycle a typical semi-automatic, so revolvers are the preferred delivery system.

I know the serpents play a role in the ecosystem, but after a few close encounters during my search and rescue days in the Grand Canyon state, I’m no fan. That probably explains why my images are limited. I got into the habit of giving them room—and lots of it—after I put my foot down on one while descending a steep and loose scree. In a lifetime outdoors, only two came at me with a terminal case of aggression, and I’m still here, if you get my drift.

Before you think the state is turning back into the wild west, bear in mind those tiny pellets in the shotshell don’t go far. Even if they do they don’t carry much energy. The snake would just about have to be, well, nearly as close as in my picture above. Rep. Lawrence, whose district includes Fountain Hills—where homes are usually acres and sometimes ridges apart—said a constituent pitched him the idea.

I surmise the Arizona Snakes & Rats Bill stands about the same chances of passing as me accepting an assignment to photograph 1,000 underfed and agitated rattlesnakes—in their 100-square-foot enclosure. If nothing else, I hope it increases awareness, because I’ve helped innocent people who’ve been struck by rattlesnakes while getting into their car, when hiking and even in their closet. I understand sometimes you don’t have the financial means to engage a professional removal service the critics suggest or even the time to call.