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Poachers make off with 800-year-old cedar

Park in Canada too big, staff too small, to catch year-long theft.
Stolen cedar treeEnlarge
Torrance Coste of the Wilderness Committee stands on a massive red cedar stump in Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada. (Wilderness Committee/Courtesy)

If a tree is stolen in the forest, does anyone hear it?

Poachers tried to cut down an 800-year-old red cedar tree from a provincial park in Canada, The Canadian Press reported, in an operation that began a year ago.

Park staff discovered the tree had been cut 80 percent through, and brought it all the way down to prevent it from injuring anyone.

That's when the thieves returned, cut it up and hauled it away; the tree had about a nine-foot diameter.

Because Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park on Vancouver Island is so large and staffing levels so low, police said they have little chance of making an arrest.

The wood is valuable for producing shingles.

“There’s not much we can investigate since we have no physical evidence or description of offenders, and once wood is removed from the forest, it’s extremely difficult to track where it came from,” RCMP Sgt. Dave Voller told CP.

“That’s one of the logistical problems with having a park that’s miles from anywhere, with no one who is on site as far as management goes.”

Torrance Coste of the environmental group Wilderness Committee first discovered the tree was under attack and reported it to police.

He blames budget cuts.

There are 10 full-time and 87 part-time rangers in BC compared to 27 full-time and 172 seasonal a decade ago.

“It’s gotten to the point where, for 1,000 protected areas and parks in the province, BC Parks employs 10 full-time staff,” Coste told News1130.

Parks staff said they realize it’s a problem, but don’t have resources to cope with the issue.

“It’s hard to say why it was cut like that and just left. It created a hazard to public safety and park safety,” BC Parks spokesman Andy Macdonald told the Victoria Times-Colonist.

“There was no other option than to hire a professional faller to complete the job.”

More from GlobalPost: We need a second Earth, says Living Planet report

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/poachers-make-800-year-old-cedar