Iowa teens face felony charges for peeling bark from a tree

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A Mason City mother was shocked and furious as her son and his stepbrother faced criminal charges for allegedly stripping the bark from a tree.

The boys, ages 13 and 14, were charged with felony second-degree criminal mischief in connection with removing bark from four to five feet of the trunk of a mature tree, on the grounds of an elementary school, August 5, 2014.

The mother of one of the boys said her son pulled a piece of bark that was falling off the tree, and that other boys did the same thing. A neighbor, who saw what the boys were doing, then reportedly called police according to the Globe Gazette.

Two other kids reportedly carved their initials into the tree. They were not charged.

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

The mother was frustrated that additional estimates weren’t sought, and that other possible solutions – such as community service or paying to replace the tree – weren’t proposed.

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

She said she will be allowed to submit an estimate she got, for $475, as part of the juvenile court proceedings.

A statement from Mason City Community Schools said the district was working with police and the families involved.


  • Aliceinwonder

    Stay inside and play video games, preferably ones about war so you can prepare yourselves to join the military for the next false flag event. Remember kiddies, the U.S. has more laws than any other country in the world and more incarcerated persons than any other nation on this planet. If you woke up this morning, chances are you will break some kind of law if not several. I miss America. I want my Constitutional Republic back.

    • Ivy

      oh, please. as if that’s the only alternative to inflicting damage on another living thing.
      in your case, I suspect you’ll grasp it when put in terms of PROPERTY DAMAGE. Mature trees aren’t cheap. you want it to be legal for people to trash your landscaping?

      “flag event” = buy some reynolds wrap and let out the circumfrence of your hat, it seems to be cutting off the oxygen to your brain.

  • Marie

    Thats is ridiculous the tree cost around 150 possibly 200 at the most but for you to charge them with a felony and over a thousand dollars because they tore bark off of a tree is a bit ridiculous

  • miranda

    Do you really think that these kids new that peeling the bark off the tree would kill it???? So if they were climbing in a tree and bark falls off that tree is going to die give me a break. I don’t think any charges should be filed but against the police department and the lady for harassing these boys. This is just crazy to me.

  • Cindy Ellsworth

    Ridiculous, even for this tree lover!

    What kind of tree? What was the prior condition of the tree? It is difficult to remove sheets of bark unless it is already loose from other means.

    Investigate species and circumstances thouroughly!

  • Tina Brian Scobee

    If it was a Healthy tree, the bark wouldn’t be able to be just peeled away,Just like humans,When our hair falls out and our skin start peeling away, means there is a underlying problem. This tree has underlying problems. Was it right for the boys to pull the bark off the already peeling tree? NO it wasn’t. So these 2 young men will never be able to get student loans through Fasfa, they will never be allowed to go into any law jobs or become a doctor that could very well find a cure for cancer ect.. They let people walk with a slap on the hand, for attempting to get a child into the car, For selling drugs ect.. But these kids will be a felon now. This judge needs to be let go..

  • David

    This is ridiculous its kids being kids and the school should have called the parents not the police they could have worked something out but to oress charges on them cmon

  • Don

    Before we get too worked up about this, realize that neither of these boys will be convicted of a felony. The likely outcome will be a simple misdemeanor conviction of criminal damage or mischief. They might receive a small fine, probation and a few hours of community service. They may also face no criminal action and just receive a discretionary punishment from a magistrate. Is the initial approach to the situation over the top? Perhaps. I agree that a call to a parent could have been made and this issue possibly put to rest without charges being pursued. However, considering the fact that law enforcement officers get so little support from parents these days, contacting them (rarely them, usually just Mom) does not often result in a reasonable solution to juvenile issues.

  • Sean

    Animals rub trees all the time and removes the bark. So what should do to them? Destroy the animals? Becauase thats what they will be doing to these kids. I’ve seen lots of trees the have lost bark and lived. What are these people thinking. Kids do worse thinks than this every day and only get a tap on the wrist.

  • Rafael

    what are you going to do about your country Americans? We’re not letting you flee to our nation when your nation becomes a military state.

  • Echo Moon

    sorry folks but destruction of school property is a crime. the tree was on school ground, therefore considered school property. it would be the same if the 2 boys had thrown a rock and broke a school window, painted graffiti on the wall, ripped up a math book or jumped on and broke a piece of playground equipment.
    there are all kinds of laws that are on the books and that get punished that for the most part are stupid. but they are there and have to be enforced.
    i’m not in agreement with this being charged as a felony but i am in agreement with the act being punished.
    next time a politician runs on a platform of “tough on crime”? think really hard before voting for that politician. because if you vote for that politician you just might be making a vote to put yourself or a loved as a criminal or in jail for something stupid….

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