Photo by Cotinis via Flickr

Oh bitter irony. It appears the Tea Party’s symbolic mascot may be in danger of extinction unless the dreaded Feds step in and invoke gub’mint regulation in the form of the hated Endangered Species Act.

Mother Jones reports that the coiled Eastern Diamondback that appears on the iconic Gadsden Flag  numbers only 100,000 critters compared to its  peak population of 3 million.

Which means there are probably more snake flags flying from the backs of pickup trucks than there are actual snakes.

MoJo notes that Ben Franklin himself took time out from inventing 5-and-dime stores to lobby for the Eastern Diamondback as a symbol because it  “never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders.”

Unfortunately, it’s surrendered about 97 percent of its original habitat, which stretches from eastern Louisiana to North Carolina.

The Eastern Diamondback, or Crotalus adamanteus as it was known before the English-only types got ahold of it, is the largest and most powerful species of American rattlesnake. And best of all, it tastes like chicken.

The biggest ever recorded weighed 26 pounds, and they average over five feet in length. They typically live in pine woods, grass lands and coastal dunes and have even been known to swim among barrier islands.

It made its first appearance on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List in 2007 because of its declining population, which is largely due to habitat destruction and hunting. In fact, one Alabama community that holds an annual rattlesnake roundup used to get 400 Eastern Diamondbacks, but now only gets 70.

Which is just one of the reasons The Center for Biological Diversity is petitioning to have it declared an endangered species.

And while that may not sit well with the anti-gub’mint crusaders,  it may be one way to let their snake-spangled banner yet wave a little longer.

But if they’re really conflicted maybe they should do a little soul searching. But instead of asking WWJD, they should punt to the Old Testament and ask, WWED — What Would Eve Do?

— John D’Anna