Teens Charged With Felonies For Killing Tree By Peeling Its Bark Off

A mother from Mason City, Iowa has expressed outrage over law enforcement’s decision to charge her son and his stepbrother with a felony for allegedly stripping bark from a tree, the Global Gazette reported.

The juveniles, aged 13 and 14, have been charged with second-degree criminal mischief, a Class D Felony, for stripping bark off the trunk of a mature tree at Mason City school property in August.

The incident arose after the teen pulled at a piece of bark that was falling off the tree and his friends followed suit. A neighbor who witnessed the kids removing the bark then called police. After admitting to the act, the boys were charged.

The charges filed against the stepbrothers were based on an estimate of $1,166 to remove and replace the tree, since according to law enforcement it will likely die.

Yet, Wells said she was disappointed that additional estimates weren’t more thoroughly obtained, since she was able to obtain an estimate for $475 which she submitted to the court. She also expressed her frustration that more age-appropriate punishments weren’t proposed such as community service or paying to replace the tree, noting that her son had rarely gotten in trouble at school.

“I guess as a parent, I should be at fault for not teaching him that pulling bark off a tree will kill it. I made sure to cover sex, drugs, drinking, responsibility, honesty and God, but trees, that one slipped my mind,” Wells said.

She is now worried a felony conviction could follow her son for the rest of his life: “My heart is hurting for my son. I don’t believe it had to go to this extreme.”

Two other kids also reportedly carved their initials in the tree but were not charged. A statement from Mason City Community Schools said the district was working with police and the families involved.

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