LETTERS: On ending rattlesnake roundups and death of former La Joya mayor

End rattlesnake roundups

If the Jaycees’ mission is to “empower young active citizens to create positive change in their communities,” the organization must immediately end its assault on wildlife. Encouraging children to dip their hands into pools of rattlesnake blood and leave gory handprints on the walls is sick and twisted.

The pain and suffering intentionally inflicted upon rattlesnakes during roundups is indefensible. Rattlesnakes bite only to defend themselves and actively avoid contact with humans. These fascinating reptiles are a critical part of a healthy eco-system.

They may also have richer social lives than we ever imagined. Female snakes separated at birth can recognize relatives when they are reintroduced years later. One study found that female timber rattlesnakes, who often cluster together in groups of six or more in rookeries, prefer to associate with relatives rather than with strangers.

During roundups, gasoline is pumped into dens and burrows and snakes are ripped from their hollows with hooks and tongs. The animals are jammed into sacks and garbage cans and left without food or water. Their heads are chopped off and their still-beating hearts are left in a bloody pile, to be sold to China as aphrodisiacs.

If the Jaycees are to claim any measure of integrity, they must make this roundup the last.

Jennifer O’Connor, senior writer,

PETA Foundation, Norfolk, Virginia

Farewell to former La Joya mayor

With the passing of William “Billy” Leo, former mayor of La Joya, his hometown, Hidalgo County, and South Texas have lost a friend and a leader. He was a natural leader. He did not need to be elected nor appointed to some office, to be a leader. He was a leader of the people, not just of the country club-elite.

He disowned aloofness and arrogance, and instead, embraced friendliness toward the people. This is what it takes to be a natural leader — a leader of the people.

I met Billy Leo at a precinct election officials meeting at a Mission community center when Terry McAuliffe, campaign manager for Hillary Clinton’s 2007 Democratic primary, was speaking. After the meeting he and I discussed several issues concerning South Texans.

Hopefully one of his relatives will continue, after him, to be a leader of the people. South Texas is in dire need of leaders who are neither afraid nor ashamed to be leaders of the people. My condolences to his family at this time. Billy Leo, may he rest in peace.

Juan Del Bosque Jr., Donna

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