Auburn: Toomer’s oaks were poisoned

Published 8:39pm Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Auburn University confirmed Thursday that the beloved live oak trees at Toomer’s Corner were poisoned with an herbicide.
The investigation was sparked last month after a caller to the syndicated Paul Finebaum radio show reportedly bragged about applying Spike 80DF to the soil around the trees, which Auburn fans roll with toilet paper to celebrate major Auburn victories.
University officials tested soil samples around the trees and determined that the lowest amount of poison in the soil was .78 parts per million, described as a “very lethal dose.”
Auburn officials said there may be little hope of saving the 130-year-old live oaks.
“We are assessing the extent of the damage and proceeding as if we have a chance to save the trees,” said Gary Keever, an Auburn University professor of horticulture and a member of Auburn’s Tree Preservation Committee. “We are also focused on protecting the other trees and shrubs in Samford Park. At this level the impact could be much greater than just the oaks on the corner, as Spike moves through the soil to a wide area.”
Auburn officials said the City of Auburn Police are investigating the incident.
Local fans — including those who cheer for other schools — expressed outrage about the poisoning on The Brewton Standard’s Facebook page.
“I am a Georgia fan, and I think this is just terrible,” Stevie White-Ward said. “Whoever is responsible should be ashamed. Sad day for Auburn.”
“I’m a Bama fan but this senseless act of cruelty is just way too much,” Jason Wright said. “Leave the rivalry on the field.”
University President Jay Gogue asked fans in a statement to uphold the university’s “reputation for class.”
“It is understandable to feel outrage in reaction to a malicious act of vandalism,” Gogue said. “However, we should live up to the example we set in becoming national champions and the beliefs expressed in our Auburn Creed. Individuals act alone, not on behalf of anyone or any place, and all universities are vulnerable to and condemn such reprehensible acts.”

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