On a number of occasions, Joseph Smith taught those in the camp to conserve natural resources and to avoid killing. One afternoon while preparing to pitch his tent Joseph and others discovered three rattlesnakes. As the men prepared to kill them, the Prophet said, “Let them alone—don’t hurt them! How will the serpent ever lose his venom, while the servants of God possess the same disposition, and continue to make war upon it? Men must become harmless, before the brute creation.” The snakes were carefully carried across a creek on sticks and released. Joseph instructed the camp to refrain from killing any animal unless it was necessary to avoid starvation. 17
17. History of the Church, 2:71–72.