Jeff Barnard, ASSOCIATED PRESS
Authorities say unemployment and drug addiction have spurred an increase in the destructive practice of cutting off the knobby growths at the base of ancient redwood trees to make decorative pieces like lacey-grained coffee tables and wall clocks.
The practice — known as burl poaching — has become so prevalent along the Northern California coast that Redwood National and State Parks on Saturday started closing the popular Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway at night in a desperate attempt to deter thieves.
Law enforcement Ranger Laura Denny said Tuesday that poachers have been stalking the remote reaches of the park with their chain saws and ATVs for decades, but lately the size and frequency of thefts have been on the rise.
"When I interview suspects, that is the (reason) they say: their addiction to drugs and they can’t find jobs," she said.