A young walnut orchard was vandalized by a “mudder” who apparently drove a pick-up truck through rows of young trees.
Several dozen were ripped up by irrigation hoses that were dragged through the trees. Tree stakes were also snapped and irrigation pipes cracked.
The trees have been in the ground for several years and are still five years from producing walnuts so time as well as money was lost.
Grower Robin Singh estimates the damage into the thousands of dollars.
“They have a lifted truck and they see a muddy field and they want to have a good time,” said Sutter Sheriff’s Department Captain Lewis McElfresh, Jr.
McElfresh said they see the activity more often in city parks and front lawns. But orchards are a logical target because they are often isolated from main roads like the Singh orchard.
The owner discovered the damage Monday but it could have occurred three or four days before. And there was evidence that someone had run over young trees in an earlier incident because the snapped tree trunks and branches were dry.
Deputies say it’s difficult to catch anyone in the act and delays in reporting the vandalism reduce the chances of gathering useful evidence. McElfresh said suspects should know the value of agriculture to the area and the hardship that vandalism places on growers who budget carefully.
“You can anticipate some of your costs but yoiu can’t anticipate random acts of vandalism,” said McElfresh.
The only consolation is that vandalism is relatively rare in the area. The Sheriff’s Department has to cover lots of square miles with very few officers so they always ask citizens to report any suspicious activity.