Busted Axle Road
Chapter 77: September, 1987

Copyright© 1993, 2001, 2010

Heather looked out the window of her apartment at the lake. It was a brilliant blue, reflecting the brilliant blue of the morning sky. In only a few weeks, it had chilled noticably, and even though Labor Day wasn't here yet, the beach was empty. The kids were back in school, and had been for a week now, and it seemed lonelier than ever. She sighed, and turned back to the laptop.

"So, all in all, not much has happened," she wrote. "Everything has been fairly quiet here, and even the local newspaper hasn't had much to say about the situation since early in the month. The next move will come down to the decision of the Fish and Wildlife Service, and what action they will take with the Environmental Protection Agency. I visited the Fish and Wildlife Service Office in Minneapolis last week, to try and get a feel for what direction their decision is taking, but a couple of the key people were on vacation, and I was unable to get much of an idea of what their thinking is."

It was entirely possible that the Fish and Wildlife Service might not want to take on the EPA, Heather thought. If they don't, then the city will go ahead with the sewer separation project; they were not about to fight it out with the EPA over the snake. If the snake saved them a fight with the EPA, so much the better, but there was not a lot of desire to go beyond that. Which wasn't surprising. In theory, the defenders might have to go to court, but she doubted that would happen unless fresh funding were available. There was no local support that she could see, but she'd already outlined that earlier in her monthly report. Whatever happens, it's all futile unless the Fish and Wildlife Service decided to fight. She turned back to her laptop.

"So far, there has still not been another sighting of a Gibson's Water Snake. I interviewed the woman that captured and killed the specimen that the Fish and Wildlife Service now has, and she was not very helpful, and certainly not very sympathetic."

In fact, she was downright hysterical. That woman didn't like snakes. Her little daughter was actually more helpful about what had happened, but it didn't help matters any.

"The chances of another one turning up before the snakes go into hibernation is now very limited. The weather is cooling a bit, and fewer specimens of any kind of snake have been seen. The primary investigator from Athens University is a graduate student, and returned to her classes last week, so there's no active investigation going on. I have tried to continue some of her searching, and I think I could identify a candidate for identification as a Gibson's Water Snake if I saw one, but without professional assistance, I am very doubtful that further examples can be found this season. However, an enhanced search next spring might be more rewarding, and we should consider continuing funding for future searches."

The joker with that, Heather thought, is that the whole question of whether the city should go ahead with the sewer separation system would probably be settled by then, unless a miracle happened. Another species, lost forever. It made her sad to think about it. Had that woman actually killed the last Gibson's Water Snake on the face of the earth? She couldn't be very sensitive to wiping out an entire species. It was disgusting to even think about. She took a sip of her coffee, and got down to the hard part.

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