Death of a Tradition, Toomers Corner Oaks Poisoned, Likely to Die

Tim TrollingerCorrespondent IFebruary 16, 2011

Auburn University confirmed today that a herbicide commonly used to kill trees was deliberately applied in lethal amounts to the soil around the Toomer’s Corner live oaks on campus, leaving little chance to save the trees.

The University learned that a caller to The Paul Finebaum Show, a nationally syndicated radio show based in Birmingham, on Jan. 27, claimed he had applied the herbicide.

As a precaution, soil samples were taken the next day and sent to the Alabama State Pesticide Residule Laboratory on campus for analysis. Due to a small fire that occurred in the Alabama lab in December, the tests were sent to the lab at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Miss., to expedite results.

Officials said in a news release that the lowest amount of the poison detected was 0.78 parts per million, described by horticulture experts as a “very lethal dose.” The highest amount detected was 51 parts per million, or 65 times the lowest dose. Experts believe a normal application by itself would have been enough to kill the trees, which are estimated to be more than 130 years old.

"We will take every step we can to save the Toomer’s oaks, which have been the home of countless celebrations and a symbol of the Auburn spirit for generations of Auburn students, fans, alumni and the community,” said University President Jay Gogue.

The following is a link to the Paul Finebaum show that aired on 27Jan . The evidence seems pretty overwhelming.