Archive for Saturday, March 4, 2006

Oh, no!

Are these salamander Samaritans serious? Please tell us it’s a joke.

March 4, 2006


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.


lunacydetector 12 years, 3 months ago

perhaps a list of names of the "salamander patrol" is needed to see if any of their names correlate with the known fringe wackos of our community. then see if these people are involved in the ECO2 (raise our property taxes) backdoor scam.

Paul Decelles 12 years, 3 months ago

I do not know these people. But I do know that roadways are serious problems for many small organisms such as frogs and salamanders. Amphibian populations worldwide seem to be declining due to habitat loss and fragmentation and this is a major problem given the role these animals play in the environment.


everettg_99 12 years, 3 months ago

Ignorance and arrogance that often go hand in hand. The author fails to consider that, yes, human beings can have negative impacts on their environments, and yes, some people actually try to mitigate those effects. It may be difficult to accept scientific data which proves the detrimental effects of the burning of fossil fuels or the effects of traffic on salamander populations when people like corporate CEOs or President Bush routinely ignore such studies whenever it's convenient, but it does not make those studies any less valid. The author obviously has never considered that investigating an issue might yield verifiable information, for he proudly proclaims that "we will never know" whether a squashed frog on the road was an anomaly or a pioneer. It's not some vast, unknowable mystery; watch the frog population in that area for a while and I bet you'd find your answer.

Are the salamander Samaritans acting to impede the development of the trafficway? I don't know, but I also don't know whether the author unequivocally supports development of the trafficway merely to be disagreeable, for business reasons, or just out of plain ignorance. The local, state, and national media is relatively quiet on stories about the greenhouse effect, the melting of the polar ice-caps, and the poisoning of national water supplies by man made petrochemicals, yet these stories are a daily occurrence in the foreign media, which I seriously doubt the author has ever read. It seems that the salamanders have done more traveling and investigating than whoever penned this pitiful excuse for a story.

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