The silly season is upon us again and this time it's even sillier than usual. There's a local coalition actually trying to organize a mass effort to help salamanders cross a section of 31st Street that supposedly keeps them from making their appointed reproductive rounds.
Smallmouth salamanders live in the moisture of the wetlands that lie along 31st between Louisiana and Haskell. During damp spring periods, males and egg-laden females cross the road to get to wherever they seem destined to be and a lot of them get flattened by motor vehicles. "It looks like road pizza," says one reportedly concerned expert on such matters.
So people are supposed to don rain gear and bring buckets and flashlights to help the creatures go from point A to point B, or perhaps vice versa, without being smashed. The question, of course, is how many human beings may be killed or maimed on dark, wet nights while trying to help salamanders cross a rain-slick road?
An intriguing factor is that normal predators of the salamanders, such as raccoons or garter snakes, are smart enough to be sidelined by traffic. Dumb animals have the good sense to avoid motor vehicles in the dead of night. What does that say about a troop of salamander Samaritans doing a deed that does not necessarily fall into the category of "good" in some minds?
Is this for real, for serious, or just another ploy to impose even more barriers to completion of the South Lawrence Trafficway? There is a history of foolishness for political purposes reaching back to the infamous and elusive northern crawfish frog, a species that at one time was considered "threatened."
A campaign to "save the frog" was triggered by the discovery of the only frog seen in the region for a long time. Unfortunately the frog had been flattened onto 31st Street by a vehicle. Whether the creature was a pioneer scouting the area for colleagues or just an anomaly we will never know.
But what we do know is that some people opposing the trafficway are willing to go to any length to do so. Agnes the Frog made public appearances in a makeshift costume and actually got on a ballot and drew some votes in one election.
So now we're getting a Salamander Patrol ready, willing and, apparently, able to get out and help their darlings cross the road so they can procreate. The idea may be harmless silliness - unless someone is injured or killed by this caper.
Let's just hope the people identified with it are merely pulling our legs and not trying to create another diversion for the South Lawrence Trafficway, a bypass the community needs more and more each day.