Tree Poaching: A Silent Epidemic

If a tree is stolen in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Animal poaching isn’t the only theft of resources that criminals inflict on nature. Tree poaching, the illegal harvesting of trees in private farms, state parks and protected woods, is less publicized but equally destructive as poachers’ attacks on wildlife.

Poaching occurs everywhere from small, privately-owned tree farms, where thieves steal Christmas trees and ornamental lawn decorations, to large state parks, home to rare hardwoods that are prime targets for illegal logging.

According to a 2012 World Bank report, illegal logging is a massively profitable criminal enterprise, generating $10 to $15 billion dollars in unregulated funds. In some countries, 90% of their logging is illegal. Thanks to legislation like the anti-poaching Lacey Act, which was amended in 2008 to explicitly outlaw illegal logging, the theft of protected trees is on the decline, with rates shrinking since 2000.

Unfortunately, tree poaching still occurs on a global scale, with the Pacific Northwest America’s most hard-hit region by illegal loggers. In 2012, tree poaching was in the headlines after illegal loggers felled an 800-year-old cedar in Vancouver National Park, bringing much-needed attention to the region’s poaching epidemic.

One group that has run afoul of illegal logging is the guitar-making industry. Instruments made from rare woods are more valuable, and guitar makers go to illegal lengths to secure materials like figured maple, which graces the tops of Carlos Santana and Eddie Van Halen’s guitars. In 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice found Gibson Guitars guilty of importing illegally logged wood from Madagascar and India. The first major investigation to be resolved under the Lacey Act’s anti-tree poaching laws, the Gibson investigation was a major victory.

However, as Mick Dodge learned when poachers impeded on his home in the Hoh Rainforest, illegal logging is still problematic today.

Watch Mick take on intruders in an all-new episode of The Legend of Mick Dodge, tonight at 10P.


  1. Kathy Gregory
    February 4, 2014, 8:38 pm

    Is a new series of Life Below Zero coming soon? We haven’t even seen repeat episodes of this or any advertisement announcing another series and when it begins! Please let us know- we LOVE this show. Thank you.

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