|David Bundy/Montgomery Advertiser via AP|
Have you heard this story? Two of the most beloved trees in the country were poisoned because of a sports rivalry. The 130 year-old live oaks that graced Toomer’s Corner in Auburn, Alabama mark the spot where Auburn University fans celebrate victories. On January 27, a man identifying himself only as “Al from Dadeville” called a local sports talk radio show and said that a week after the Iron Bowl—the annual football game between Auburn and Alabama—he had driven to Auburn and poisoned the trees at Toomer’s Corner by injecting Spike 80DF, an herbicide that inhibits photosynthesis.
“Is that against the law to . . . poison a tree?” asked the radio host.
The next day, Auburn University officials took samples of the soil around the storied live oaks and confirmed that, indeed, the soil had been poisoned with nearly 65 times the amount of poison necessary to kill a tree. “There is little chance to save the trees,” the University said.
The caller, an Alabama fan, said he attended the Iron Bowl the day before. He said he poisoned the trees because he thought Auburn fans had rolled the trees in toilet paper to celebrate the death of Alabama coaching legend Bear Bryant in 1983. Turns out, this fact was not at all true. On the day of Bryant’s death, rival Auburn flew flags at half mast to commemorate the event.
This morning Auburn police arrested Harvey Almorn Updyke charging him with criminal mischief. He is being held on $50,000 bond.
You can listen to the caller on the radio show here.
I grew up an Auburn fan, and visit Toomer’s Corner every year when visiting my parents who live blocks away from these beloved trees. There are no words . . .