Poachers Steal 800 Year-Old Red Cedar from Carmanah Valley


Read this story from the Victoria Times-Colonist on the brazen theft of a massive 800 year-old Western Red Cedar from the Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park on Vancouver Island. (May 17, 2012)

Tree poachers have stolen one of the largest red cedars in Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park in what is believed to have been a two-part operation over the past year.

“If poachers can run around roughshod in the parks, it’s a terrible thing for B.C.,” said Torrance Coste, a Vancouver Island campaigner with the environmental group Wilderness Committee. He reported the theft to B.C. Parks and RCMP, but was told there was little chance of finding the thieves.

Coste, who measured rings on the stump, said the cedar, which is valuable for roof shakes, was probably about 800 years old and measured 2.75 metres across.

“I believe the poachers have access to heavy-duty equipment. Firewood salvagers in pickup trucks can’t handle trees this size,” he said.

The demise of the tree started one year ago when parks staff found it had been 80 per cent cut through with a chainsaw.

“It’s hard to say why it was cut like that and just left. It created a hazard to public safety and park safety,” said Andy Macdonald, B.C. Parks west coast regional section head.

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

The tree was left on the ground to decompose and provide habitat for insects and wildlife, Macdonald said.

But someone had other ideas.

“The trunk has been hauled out, cut up and taken away, presumably to be further processed and sold,” Coste said. He assumes it was the same person who initially cut the tree.

Macdonald said the parks department discovered the tree had been dragged out about a week ago. There was little evidence to investigate as even tire tracks had been obscured.

“It’s one of the more remote parks on Vancouver Island that doesn’t see a lot of visitation, so I would guess the illegal activity occurred when no one else was present,” he said.

Coste said tree poaching is an example of what can happen when there is no staff to monitor what is going on. “We have been concerned about the cutting of park budgets for a number of years. Until about 18 months ago, people would have been watching,” he said.