JOSEPHINE COUNTY COURTHOUSE HAS BEEN DECLARED AN ENDANGERED SPECIES HABITAT
By John Taft of the Satire Press Copyright 1998
GRANTS PASS -- A rare rat has recently been discovered living in the Josephine County Courthouse. It has been identified as the corpulent rat by a reputable source Professor Liza A. Little, of Oregon State University. In the 1920's this rat was commonly found in Southern Oregon. A black and white cat was thought to have caught the last known specimen in the late 1950's.
This particular rat species has a voracious appetite for fats, oils, and sugars. This fact was recently demonstrated when a commissioner said, "I accidentlly dropped my hamburger on the floor and a whole bunch of these corpulent rats came out of no where and jumped on it like a swarm of piranhas. I was scared to reach down and pick up my greasy burger."
The rats' near extinction was caused by overeating which lead to the corpulent condition. Unless food intake is restricted the rat's stomach area bloats and the animal becomes excessively'
fat. The rat's legs are then unable to make contact with the surface they're on, and the rat is forced to roll sideways or play dead in attempting to escape their enemies. This usually doesn't fool the predator.
A Fish and Wildlife agent was recently in the courthouse talking to the county commissioners about their stand on Savage Rapids Dam when a rat rolled across the agent's shoes. The agent shouted, "Shazam, that's a corpulent rat!"
Within 24 hours the Josephine County Courthouse was declared a critical habitat for an endangered species. Two armed Fish and Wildlife Department guards backed up by city police armed with automatic weapons have been posted at all entrances to the courthouse to keep cats and other predators out. To enter the courthouse you have to sign a statement that you will cause no harm to the endangered rat. All county employees are now required to wear slippers while in the courthouse to keep noise to a minimum. The rats are thought to breed best in a quiet environment, according to the book Authentic Rat-Tails by Victor Trapp.
SCRAP, Save Corpulent Rat Association of Portland spokeswoman Lola Cola said, "This indeed is a day for celebrating, as a lost species has been found again. SCRAP pledges to work closely with the United States Fish and Wildlife Department to insure the proliferation of the corpulent rat in Southern Oregon once again. We also will work to set aside the Josephine County Courthouse as a permanent endangered species preserve for the corpulent rat."
This rat is now protected by the full legal authority of the United States government under the Endangered Species Act. Anyone harassing, frightening or harming the rat is subject to prosecution which can bring a $100,000 fine and one year in jail for each charge. There can be multiple charges.
Federal Judge Harry R.Throwback said, "If the use of the Josephine County Courthouse doesn't disturb the corpulent rat and its population continues to increase, then the courthouse can be used for business by county residents. However, I must warn all concerned that if I receive any complaints from SCRAP or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department of any violation, I will immediately place a limit of 64 persons in the courthouse at any given time."
Yesterday, the first recorded death of a corpulent rat occurred in front of several witnesses in the courthouse. The rat was accidentally squashed when stepped on by Amateur Archaeologist Jack Harelson of Grants Pass. The incident occurred while Harelson was in the courthouse paying property taxes. Harelson is reported to have said, "I didn't even see the damn rat." Employees in the Tax Collection Department said, "Harelson appeared to show no remorse."
The ratís body was packed in ice and sent to a local veterinarian for an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.
Police were called, and during the confrontation more than a dozen patrol cars with lights flashing and sirens wailing quickly blocked Sixth Street in front of the courthouse. An estimated twenty police officers with guns drawn leaped from the vehicles and raced up the courthouse steps and into the building led by the men in black, Grants Pass's very own "Swat Team" carrying fully automatic weapons. Police soon had Harelson in custody without incident.
Three known prosecutors from the district attorney's office were seen watching the proceedings from the shadows of a doorway.
Harelson was immediately booked into the county jail and held without bail. A jail inmate charged with murder, rape, and robbery was released to make room for him. The county jail has a 64-prisoner limit imposed by a federal judge.
Mr. Harelson had previously been prosecuted by the district attorney for possession of stolen Indian artifacts that Harelson had dug up in Nevada. Mr. Harelson calmly disputed the charges saying, "the only thing I'm guilty of is digging without a permit".
An unidentified person from the district attorney's office was asked if the DA would prosecute Mr. Harelson for squashing an endangered species.
The person is reported to have said, "We're always happy to prosecute for a federal agency. The DA may personally prosecute this case if there's lots of media coverage, especially TV."
When asked what it would cost Oregon taxpayers to prosecute the case, our source replied, "We would probably need a subpoena or two, so you're looking at five or ten dollars and, besides, we'll spend whatever it takes."
A memorial for the Corpulent rat? SCRAP has started a fund drive to raise $25,000 to erect a six-foot bronze statute of the rat, to be placed in the courthouse next to the bust of Debbs Potts. U.S. Fish and Wildlife has promised matching funds. Donations can be left at the district attorney's office during business hours.
A deputy prosecutor in the district attorneys office was reportedly asked, "Why is the DA's office involved in this fund drive?" He replied, "Those rats are worth more to us dead than alive." He winked and said, "That's off the record, of course."
Well, it looks like these rats have found a home and a prosecutor to uphold the American judicial system in the Josephine County Courthouse.