The motive behind a rash of Minnesota tree killings? 'Anger management'

"I’ve never seen such an egregious effort towards trees.”

We've heard lots of reasons for why someone might want to make an activity out of chopping down trees

But stress-relief – which was the apparent reasoning for a band of renegade tree-cutters in central Minnesota recently – is a new one on us. 

This interesting excuse comes from Monday's announcement of a case involving the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge, which is near the town of Zimmerman.

A U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service news release says park authorities started getting "numerous complaints about tree chopping" back in April. A wildlife official's initial investigation found a whopping 70 trees cut down, including small aspens, large oaks, and maples.

And "what was really odd," the release says, was that "the officer found a 3-foot-wide oak tree girdled, with two axes still leaning on that tree." 

Girdling is cutting away a strip of bark around the circumference of a tree trunk, a process that slowly kills the it.

But it wasn't until May that the "four local young adult" male suspects were finally found, thanks to a tip from a "concerned citizen."

"All of them," the release says, confessed the motive was "anger management, release of energy, and to get some exercise."

The suspects, who were described as "honest," were then ticketed and hit with "large fines," which they paid.

“I’ve been investigating natural resource crimes for more than 25 years and I’ve never seen such an egregious effort towards trees,” Regional Law Enforcement Chief Chris Jussila said in the release.

Tree poaching in Minnesota

Organized, illegal tree felling isn't uncommon in Minnesota, though usually the motive is making money. 

The most recent case involves an Aurora man who was charged in May with cutting down and stealing 1,200 birch trees from state land – possibly in order to sell them as decorations. 

Earlier in the year, a nature park in Dakota County was hit by serial tree vandals, who also used the "girdling" technique multiple times. 

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