Wisconsin's Butler Garter Snake Target Of Protection Debate

Members of a legislative committee say they think the Butler's gartner snake is getting too much protection in Wisconsin ... and they're going to do something about it.

The snake has protected status, and that has caused some past problems for development projects in areas where the snake lives.

A committee of the Republican-controlled Legislature recently heard from the Department of Natural Resources on its regulations aimed at protecting the species.

Then the panel voted, 8-to-4, to have the DNR roll back those rules. If the agency doesn't do so by October first, lawmakers say they'll suspend all the regulations that protect the snake, which would knock out those rules until spring of 2008.

Republican Senator Glenn Grothman says DNR testimony indicates the snake isn't really threatened.

But former DNR Secretary George Meyer, who now serves as executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, says the lawmakers could be headed for trouble. He says if the action is taken, federal officials might step in and put the controls back in place.