Friday, February 21, 2014

The Plight of Jackalopes in Kansas

(Plasitchrome by Colourpicture Boston, Mass Rushmore Photo Inc, Rapid City, S Dakota)

This is a jackalope, now a rare, nearly mythical beast but once a common creature of the Great Plains and Rocky Mountain areas of the middle United States. The world best knows this species from the dusty and moth-eaten mounted heads hanging in every beer joint from Silverton, Colorado to Topeka, Kansas, and from 25-cent truck stop postcards sold across the world. Most people consider the jackalope a joke, a corny joke. The dismissive and irreverent attitude is widely believed to be the central cause of the tragic clash between jackalopes and the human population in Kansas.  

The Kansas State Board of Tourism and The Wizard of Oz have combined resources in an effort to control what information is leaked to the outside world. Tourism in Kansas typically brings in upwards of $190 annually, so great pains are taken to shield the reputation of the state as a desirable tourist destination. Despite these efforts at suppressing the truth of the violent and deadly uprising, the jackalope's plight has been prominent in international news.

A series of bloody clashes between jackalopes and tavern owners in the north and central part of the state repeatedly makes headlines in the foreign press, such as Al Jazeera and the BBC. Due to the State's efforts, little has been reported locally or nationally. Jackalopes have decried the practice of headhunting among their species and have been largely ignored. In some areas of Kansas, the species has been extirpated due to the savage genocide fueling the legal trade of jackalope heads to bars in other western states. The despicable practice of taverns displaying the mounted heads of dead jackalopes has outraged and inflamed a grieving population. In addition to the genocide, and losses suffered in the inter-species warfare, jackalopes have faced starvation in dozens of Kansas counties. Their primary food source has been entirely eradicated with the widespread herbicide applications, and the planting of genetically modified organisms (GMO) crops targeted to be poisonous to jackalopes.

The jackalope's plight is not without its sympathizers. Brian Birk, PhD, University of Washington, has spent many years in the field studying the macabre practice of displaying jackalope heads in taverns. He has lectured and written extensively on the long and checkered history between humans and jackalopes. He noted in recent publications that Kansas is the only state limiting license to drive an El Camino to Jackalopes. "Kansas is a classy state in that respect," he stated.

Native American tribes in Kansas, directing much of their casino profits toward reintroducing the jackalope species into areas where untouched prairie remains, have been quite successful. A significant number of farmers who once ruthlessly eradicated jackalopes from their lands formed a political group in the southeastern corner of the state. These repentant farmer advocates symbolically and ceremonially "marry" jackalopes as a form of protest against the continued decimation of the species, and to draw attention to the plight of the jackalopes. It is thought this symbolic practice of men marrying animals is the source of the strident argument against gay marriage. Opponents point to the jackalope/farmer marriages as a prime example of the "slippery slope" theory that once gay marriage has been legalized, bestiality is sure to follow.

The jackalopes themselves are taking action to protect themselves. A large rebel population in the northeast corner of the state has been consciously and systematically interbreeding with elk in order to increase the size of antler jackalopes can grow. It is assumed the larger antlers will be used against tavern keepers who refuse to remove the mounted heads of dead jackalopes.

Chevy El Camino - only Jackalopes are licensed to drive these cars in Kansas.
Jackalope Reserve in Cherokee County, Kansas, early spring after jackalopes shed their antlers.
(Photo courtesty of Yu Yu Lam Lam, who originally posted the video to Facebook.)


Kathy said...

I can't believe I'm the first to comment. I am so happy to read such well-researched commentary. Especially in light of the recently gone-viral Facebook Quiz ('Which Badly Taxidermied Animal Are You?') the plight of the poor jackalope needs to be better known. I only wish we had a population in Oregon -- I think they would do well in the eastern 2/3 of the state that is desert. There may previously have been a large number here, but possibly it was wiped out as the gigantic pluvial lakes emptied at the end of the Pleistocene. Perhaps someday fossil tracks will be found in ancestral Lake Lahontan or Missoula.

Sadly, local rednecks, er, I mean small-town citizenry in the least populated corners of the desert, are still holding (legal) coyote hunts. Jackalopes would stand little chance of escaping their notice, were they still around.

Thanks again for updating us all. Excellent map, and keep Kansas free of tourists!

Kathy said...

How could I have missed those palm trees in the Jackalope Reserve photo? The only place I have seen palm trees in Kansas is at a massive truck stop, somewhere between Wichita and Denver. And they were, ahem, faux.

Could it be the entire jackalope story is, er ..........

Jackie said...

Well, that jackalope reserve is in the extreme southeast corner of Kansas - right next to tropical Oklahoma and Missouri. The palm tree is the Oklahoma State Tree, I'm pretty sure. (You know, I am an enormously important contributor to Fox News.)