(CBS/WRBL/AP) Auburn University officials reported Wednesday that the 130-old Toomer Oaks, historical landmarks of the University and the celebration site for all Auburn sports achievements, had been deliberately poisoned. The trees were given "lethal amounts" of herbicide and are not likely to survive.
Students and residents of the Auburn community gathered around the ancient Oaks Wednesday afternoon. "I just don't understand why somebody would destroy something that is that key to the university," Kevin Johnson, an industrial engineering senior, told CBS affiliate WRBL. "It's just crazy that somebody would choose to do that to Auburn."
As WRBL reports, the story started with a phone call. On Jan. 27, a caller to "The Paul Finebaum Show," a sports talk radio show out of Birmingham, claimed he poisoned the live oaks shortly after the Iron Bowl with an herbicide known as Spike 80DF.
"The weekend after the Iron Bowl, I went to Auburn, Ala. - I live 30 miles away - and I poisoned the two Toomer's trees," the caller said on the show. "I put Spike 80DF in them." Show host Finebaum then asked the caller if the trees had died, to which Al in Dadeville responded, "They have not died yet, but they will die."
Auburn officials are determined to make sure that does not happen. "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," university President Jay Gogue said in a statement.