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.


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