Forget the Asian Long-Horned Beetle, the Woody Adelgid, or any of the other pests and diseases attacking our trees. The Burlington Free Press reported this week that vandals have been damaging more than a dozen trees in the city over the past few months. In the most recent particularly heinous incident, a homeowner woke up to find that someone had torn a major branch off a beloved tree in his front yard. He retrieved the branch, and put up a “sad face” sign on the damaged tree. The vandal(s) returned the next night and finished the job. What kind of a low life would do that?

The problem of tree vandalism is apparently widespread. In 2003, vandals cut down the nation’s largest longbeak eucalyptus in Arizona. In Australia, authorities have said tree vandalism in coastal areas had reached “epidemic proportions.” Apparently people in recently-developed areas wanted to improve their ocean views. Not content with just cutting them down, vandals bored holes into the trees then poured in various herbicides. In some cases they cut off rings of bark, ensuring the trees would eventually die a slow death.

In Derby, England, local officials have asked for the public’s help in keeping an eye out for vandals who have been damaging trees in public parks.

This also not a new problem. The town council in Watertown, Massachusetts, passed an ordinance prohibiting the “spoiling” of trees in 1635 – just 15 years after the arrival of the Mayflower.

Is nothing sacred?

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