A satirical article claiming lions had been released to control the East End deer population apparently caused a bit of a panic, the Town of Southampton Police said, leading more than a few locals to call the cops to air their concerns with the “plan.”
The oft-humorous Dan’s Papers last week posted an online story claiming that a wealthy Bridgehampton resident was planning to import lions to hunt down deer. According to Sergeant Michael Burns, he has fielded anywhere between 10 and 15 calls from residents voicing their anger at the “news,” and at least one caller claimed to have seen a lion stalking her back yard this morning. Burns shrugged the calls off with a laugh and said he explained to the callers that the report was fake.
That’s more than Dan’s Papers is willing to admit, however, after Patch spoke with the paper’s online editors Brendan O’Reilly and Oliver Peterson. The story was written by Dan Rattiner, who founded Dan’s Papers back in 1960.
“Neither of us are denying the veracity of Dan’s original story,” O’Reilly said. Rattiner was not in the office and could not be reached for comment. O’Reilly added that the lions-coming-to-hunt-deer story has gone viral over several social media platforms and was picked up by other news outlets reporting how many people got sucked in.
An exchange on Facebook, captured in the photo gallery for this story, illustrates the case. A Facebook user posted the Dan’s story with the comment: “Wow...the last paragraph just makes me shake my head more...just wow.” A commenter on the link stated: “How many days until we hear [of] the first lion attack. Ps...aren’t these lions going to be in shock with the cold weather?”
Despite this latest uproar, O’Reilly added that this isn’t the first time a tongue-in-cheek story from Rattiner went viral. He referenced a 2009 report in the paper that former Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin was shopping for a home in Hampton Bays. To be sure, Palin referenced that false report in a scathing open letter about damaging rumors to the reputation of then-South Carolina state Rep. Nikki Haley during her bid to win the South Carolina governor’s seat, which she did in 2010.
“Reaching [Haley] from Wasilla, I then joked with Nikki that I was calling her from one of the many locations the lamestream media claims I moved to,” Palin wrote. “(Let’s see, I think the last I heard I was living in the Hamptons, or was it Montana? No, supposedly L.A. is where they claim I moved when I “left Todd” in their idiotic reports.)”
Town of Southampton Police said there are no plans to release lions to hunt deer, at least to their knowledge. However, Patch has reported on a controversial sharpshooter program which would use two-legged hunters to cut down on overpopulated deer. Deer lovers recently launched an online petition to stop the program.
To answer the Facebook question, according to Science Daily, lions can indeed survive the cold weather. Their bodies will produce a thicker mane to handle the temps.