Pity poor Jasper: our trees proclaimed ugly and our town’s only wild boar packed up and gone in a quest for a more tranquil kudzu patch.
For those who haven’t been following the news, the past year has been something of a “Wild Kingdom comes to Jasper,” beginning with buzzards that roosted in a residential area and fouled cars and roofs (maybe even a few unwary pedestrians). Finally the feathered fun-seekers were chased away by police officers, the animal control officer and the mayor, all shooting “bird bangers” – loud cap guns.
As quickly as those un-wanted guests skedaddled, a groundhog ran among traffic on Highway 515. Instead of becoming roadkill, the rodent gained fame, shutting down part of a major highway when a driver’s rescue effort went unappreciated by the critter. The little beast revived all beastly inside the rescuer’s car after being scooped off the pavement in tender interplay of motorist and mother Earth. Never encountered an enraged woodchuck on your front seat? Lucky you. As Animal Control Officer Lonnie Waters said, those little suckers pack a nasty bite.
Eventually tugged from under the dashboard of its rescuer’s vehicle, the groundhog gained release into a friendly kudzu patch, leaving Jasper Mayor John Weaver speculating what this groundhog told others after rejoining the tribe.
The next episode of “When Animals Attack in Jasper” involved a raccoon that inexplicably latched onto a jogger in City Park. The jogger and a friend dispatched the varmint with little effort using a broken umbrella from a nearby trash can. The attack and the relative ease by which the perpetrating ring-tail received dispatch to raccoon heaven (a place where trash can lids are never shut tight) left city officials scratching their heads. The state proved no help when it wouldn’t test the carcass for rabies, given the jogger won a decisive victory in the death match, taking no scratches.
At some point this spring, the buzzards returned briefly. This time the unwanted met a city force firing more than bird bangers. A pair of buzzard bodies, killed and hung up in trees, convinced the rest of the flock Jasper means business whenever it says, “Move along, you tree-treadin’ troublemakers.” Buzzards lit out for other parts.
All this leads up to the latest installment of animal oddity: a wild pig of unknown origin, live on the town. Boss Hog decided to call a wooded area back of Jasper First Baptist his home kingdom.
The pig gained notoriety when it failed to differentiate between overgrown areas and manicured lawns along South Main, thus building public sentiment against his personal pig relocation program. People often described the scene left by the rooting hog as the look of a garden tiller gone wild.
To rid our town of the porcine pest, trappers came, hunters came, animal control officers came. In fact, Animal Control Officer Lonnie Waters said he had no shortage of offers from other ardent citizens eager to bag the trophy beast and haul him straight to the bacon factory. City fathers wisely decided South Main isn’t the Serengeti and just said no.
Fame, Waters said, may have proved too much for the pig. Apparently the herd of people hunting a glimpse of the pig’s new digs wore on the animal’s nerves, prompting Herr Porkster to ramble on elsewhere.
As if trouble with fauna here weren’t trouble enough, in the midst of all this, the tree board proclaimed the flora (trees) downtown as officially ugly. Some are pretty spindly, but with beauty in the eye of the beholder, who are we to compare maples to locusts?
Our final thought on all the flora and fauna news: If trees could talk, what would they say about the people on Main Street?