You’ve probably heard of poachers targeting tortoises and rhinos, but the latest poaching threat in North America doesn’t involve an animal. Poachers have been sneaking into California’s ancient redwood forests and cutting away burls and bunions (types of knotty growths) from live and fallen trees. This type of wood fetches a nice price on the market because it is becoming increasingly rare, but removing burls can be incredibly damaging to the ancient trees and the local environment.

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To help combat the recent wave of poaching incidents, the U.S. National Park Service has started closing one of the main scenic roads through the park, the Newton B. Drury Parkway. According to a recent press release, “Much of the illegal poaching occurs at night. The closure is a proactive step toward preserving our State’s priceless natural resources.”

Related: Spanish Winemaker Obtains Permission to Cut Down 154 Acres of California Redwoods

Once the wood has been poached from a tree, it is sold off for construction materials and ornamental furniture and souvenirs. That’s particularly unfortunate because a redwood tree can live thousands of years, only grows in a tiny area on the planet and the tallest trees in the world come from this species. Illegal poaching damages the trees, impacts forest appearance and can even threaten endangered animals that live in the forest.

Via the New York Times

Images from Tim Olson and The National Forest Service

Related: Archangel Tree Project Plants its First Cloned Redwoods in Seven Countries