HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A decades-old ornamental street tree in the downtown area of Hillsborough has been vandalized, police reported Friday morning.
Hillsborough police are investigating the incident.
They say that an unidentified person intended to kill the tree and the vandalism is thought to have taken place in one or more incidents over the past two weeks.
Police say the person sawed through the 25-foot-tall crepe myrtle, located on the west side of Churton Street between Tryon and King streets.
The tree’s bark was sawed around the entire base of the trunk in process known as girdling.
“If the girdling is deep enough, it will kill the tree because the growth lawyer is right under the bark and it will eventually die,” said Andrea Lewis, master gardener and tree board member.
Police also say the person drilled holes into the trunk and applied herbicide.
“We assume some type of herbicide or chemical was inserted,” said Stephanie Trueblood with the Hillsborough tree board.
An arborist pointed out some of the leaves at the top of the tree are dying which would be a sign it was poisoned.
The tree is valued at $25,000 because of its size and age.
Officials said if the tree dies, there’s not just replacement cost to worry about but they’ll also have to wait till the new tree grows enough to match the current landscape on this street.
Anyone with information about the vandalism is asked to contact Hillsborough Police Sgt. Chip White at 919-732-9381, ext. 34.