It’s the time of year when real Christmas trees are in high demand but in short supply.
Manitoba conservation officers recently discovered an illegal tree-cutting operation on a Crown land plantation north of Marchand.
A public tip led officials to observe a suspect bringing trees out of the plantation on December 13. The area grows high-quality trees for planting in forestry renewal projects across southern Manitoba.
Officers seized 30 black spruce trees and a chainsaw. Another 18 trees that had been cut but not yet removed were also seized from the plantation. In all, a total of 167 trees had been cut and the majority of the trees were between 20 and 30 feet tall, with only the tops removed.
Officials say the suspect told them he was selling the trees at his business in Steinbach.
The person, who hasn’t been named, has been charged under the Forest Act of Manitoba. If convicted, they could face a fine of up to $50,000 or up to six months in jail or both. A corporation could face fines of up to $250,000 for a first offence. In addition, there will be a requirement to pay provincial forestry dues.
The seized trees were donated to a Ukrainian church in Winnipeg to help newcomers enjoy their first holiday season in Canada.
Manitobans who wish to cut down a tree on Crown land can purchase a permit for $9.75 + GST. The permit allows for the cutting of a coniferous tree up to three metres high, with a limit of one tree per household.