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Be aware of increased timber thefts

Current high prices for white oak and black walnut timber have created a recent increase in timber theft. Tree theft in rural areas of Ohio should be of concern to residents and landowners, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Forestry offers tips to help residents prevent this activity.

“Timber is a marketable commodity, with well-formed trees of some species having substantial value,” said Dan Balser, chief of the Division of Forestry. “Keeping an eye out for timber theft on your property or on your neighbor’s land can go a long way to deterring theft and significant monetary and resource losses. We have recently seen timber thefts from both public and private land in Ohio.”

Timber poachers often work in secluded areas not visible from residences. They often remove the most valuable lower log section of the tree and leave upper sections and limbs. Thieves use small equipment like small trailers and winches, or logging equipment like loaders and large trucks.

ODNR offers these tips when illegal tree theft activity is suspected:

• Report suspicious activity to local law enforcement immediately. Do not personally confront anyone working a suspected timber theft operation.
• Leave contact information with a neighbor, especially if you are an absentee woodland owner. Keep them informed of your plans for the property.
• Inspect your property regularly. Cable or gate access lanes and install locks.
• Mark all of your boundaries with paint or signs to deter potential thieves.
• Conduct a timber inventory and estimate the value of your timber.
• When conducting a timber sale, work with a professional forester to know what resources you own, follow a management plan with defined outcomes, use sustainable forestry practices, solicit multiple bids, research any potential buyer or logger, require a bond, use a contract for harvesting work and include best management practices to protect soil and water.

Resources are available at callB4Ucut.com/ohio or by calling 877-424-8288.

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