MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A popular decorating trend is causing a problem in Minnesota and Wisconsin’s northwoods.

Conservation officers said people are illegally cutting down birch trees at an alarming rate. This is happening on city, county and even federal land.

In a lot of cases, thieves are cutting down and stripping trees around 8′ tall. They can earn hundreds of dollars in selling the illegal white bark.

The theft is very damaging for the woods.

“A lot of wildlife utilize these, from birds to deer, to browse in the winter time. If they go in and cut these down, it takes sometimes a decade or more for trees to regenerate as well,” Dave Walz, a conversation warden supervisor with the Wisconsin DNR, said.

If caught illegally cutting down white birch trees, the punishment may vary from a substantial fine to even jail.

Birch trees can be harvested from public property in Minnesota, but only with written permission or a permit.



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