The story of kangaroos being released into the Wyoming landscape fooled just about everyone.
On April 1, County10.com announced that the Wyoming Wild Game Department had "released the first of five planned batches of 90 Antilopine Kangaroos into the Wyoming outdoors."
Project Sage Hopper, as it was dubbed, was meant to increase wildlife-viewing opportunities, while also providing greater hunting options for outdoorsmen and women. The well-written piece had plenty of quotable lines from wildlife officials, as well as links to all of the proper wildlife agencies.
The trouble with the story was that it was a hoax! A wonderful, convincing, magnificent hoax.
The story spread like wildfire across social media, with seemingly only a few astute readers catching onto the chicanery. The majority of people, from all of the comments I read on the various repostings of the story, seemed to have swallowed the tale hook, line and sinker.
Many folks expressed their confusion. "Why would they do this?" they asked.
More expressed their outrage and disgust with the wildlife agencies allegedly responsible for introducing a non-native species into the Wyoming environment.
I shared the story on my own page, Stumpjack Outdoors, and had to actually delete a couple of comments because they were over the top in the vulgarity and passionate anger they expressed.
Some folks decried Project Sage Hopper with declarations that the WWGD's release of the first 90 kangaroos would surely destroy native animal populations, while others heralded the increased hunting opportunities that would result. Others wondered aloud whether or not the meat from the marsupials would be edible or how they would adapt to the harsh Wyoming winters.
It was truly a convincing hoax. My own wife paused as she read the article, being taken in for a moment. It was gloriously clever.
But alas, the pictures shown in the piece were not of kangaroos being released as part of a Wyoming migration initiative. They were of mule deer, with the featured image being photoshopped to show a kangaroo bounding away instead of an actual collared mule deer:
If people were sold on much of the content of the article a tip-off to the phoniness of it should have been in a final sentence, where the author declared that "A short-list for future proposed introductions include the koala, wallaby and the endangered Tasmanian Devil."
If you were fortunate enough to also see a follow-up piece published later the same day by The Brine Shrimp, you would have read how the ill-mannered kangaroos were already wreaking havoc with the local population. The roos were allegedly engaged in drunken acts of vandalism, breaking and entering and other acts of mayhem.
The report stated:
Jed Cummings, a Coalville resident said "I went outside today to go to work and noticed broken glass on the ground by my truck. The kangaroos stole a few CDS from my collection. They were pretty selective about what they took. Men at Work, Midnight Oil, AC-DC, Keith Urban, Olivia Newton John and Crowded House CDs. They only took CDs made by Australian bands. That's when I knew it was the damn kangaroos!"
It makes me smile to think of how beautifully conceived and executed this truly "fake news" piece was. It should make you smile too, even it temporarily fooled you.
Well done and hats off to whoever created this brilliant hoax.
Happy April Fools Day!
Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his Facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.