VICTORIA, British Columbia, May 18 (UPI) -- Canadian tree poachers stole an 800-year-old red cedar from the Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park on Vancouver Island, an environmental spokesman group said.
Torrance Coste of the Wilderness Committee reported the theft to British Columbia Parks but was told there was little chance of finding the thieves.
The tree had been cut down and was on the ground when it was stolen.
Coste said a shortage of park staff members contributed to the theft. British Columbia Environmental Ministry figures show the number of park rangers has dropped by nearly half in the last decade.
Park staff members discovered someone had used a chainsaw to nearly slash through the trunk a year ago.
"It's hard to say why it was cut like that and just left," said Andy Macdonald, West Coast regional head of British Columbia Parks. "It created a hazard to public safety and park safety. There was no other option than to hire a professional faller to complete the job."
Macdonald said the trunk was left on the ground to allow it to decompose, providing habitat for insects and wildlife.
A week ago, staff members noticed it was missing. They were left without much evidence -- even tire tracks had been covered.