How Does an 800-Year-Old Giant Tree Go Missing?

Enterprising tree poachers have stolen a gold, er, woodmine of a target: an 800-year-old red cedar tree that's one of the largest in the Vancouver Island area. It's gone now and it was stolen under a two-part operation that's been underway for the past year.

The tree stealing two-step scheme was a bold one: the tree was originally cut 80% through its nine-foot diamter trunk before the damage was discovered by park officials who deemed it unsafe to stay upright. Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park on Vancouver Island, where the tree was once located, decided to cut the tree down and then let it naturally decompose.

That's when phase two of the tree poaching plan came into effect, the suspected cutters of the tree supposedly came back after the tree had fallen and hauled out the giant tree piece by piece. It's unlikely that the park or the police will find the poachers (unless someone starts a massive firewood sale) but they surmise that the tree was stolen to make roof shingles. The poaching team had to have access to heavy duty equipment and big trucks because even "firewood salvagers in pickup trucks can't handle trees this size."

But why steal a freaking tree? Sgt. Dave Voller explained to the Canadian Press what the poachers would be able to get for the 800-year-old bark:

"It's obviously much more gain than going out and taking a whole pile of firewood. A logging truck loaded with cedar would be worth thousands and thousands of dollars."

Solid haul you environment stealers. I imagine you hanging out and swapping stories with the bridge thieves. Check out the pictures of the stolen tree here. [Windsor Star via MSNBC]