Parks secretary criticizes proposed bill on snakes

TOPEKA, Kansas (AP) – The secretary of the state wildlife department says a bill before the Kansas Senate that would remove two snakes from the state’s list of threatened species would set a dangerous precedent.

Johnson County officials on Thursday asked lawmakers to remove the redbelly and smooth earth snake from state protection.

They argued that the nonvenomous snakes have healthy populations in other states and accommodating their threatened status increases the costs of utility projects in the county.

But Kansas Secretary of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Robin Jennison says scientists, not lawmakers, should decide which animals are on the lists. He says the state is already reviewing the snakes’ status and is expected to issue an opinion by October on whether to keep their threatened species status.

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