Toomer’s corner tree poisoning arrest made

Toomer's Corner

The 130-year old oak trees at Toomer's Corner have been deliberately poisoned. Image: Flickr / booleansplit / CC-BY

Auburn University’s Toomer’s Corner has long been the location of celebration for the school. The Auburn trees were poisoned by a vandal, however. The Toomer’s corner tree poisoning arrest has been made, but even Dow Chemical isn’t sure it can save the giant, 130-year-old oak trees.

Auburn trees poisoned

Toomer’s corner on the Auburn campus is a grove of 130-year-old oak trees that serves as the center of many celebrations. After the Auburn football team wins, it is tradition to cover the trees with toilet paper. After the Iron Bowl, a game Auburn won, a national radio show received a disturbing phone call. A man said he had poisoned the Auburn trees with 80DF, also known as tebuthiuron. The caller claimed he had done this because he did not approve of the Auburn students celebrating.

Toomer’s corner tree poisoning arrest made

The day after the Paul Finebaum Show aired the call claiming that the Auburn trees were poisoned, police began investigating. This morning, Harvey Almorn Updyke was arrested and held on $50,000 bond on a charge of criminal mischief. During the call-in show, the caller had identified himself as “Al from Dadeville.” If Updyke is convicted of the Auburn tree poisoning he could be facing between one and 10 years in prison and fines for his “prank.”

Dow chemical trying to help Toomer’s corner trees

The chemical used to poison the Toomer’s Corner oak trees was a Dow Chemical product. The herbicide is “very lethal” at .78 parts per million, and university labs found up to 65 times that amount in the soil around the trees. Trenches are being dug around the trees for activated charcoal to be placed in the soil, and Dow Chemical is trying to find ways to protect other plants in the park. The likelihood that the poisoned Auburn trees will be saved, however, is unfortunately low.


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