BARK-stripping tree vandals are being hunted after a spate of town centre attacks.
Of the 71 trees standing in the town centre, 28 have been targeted — some so badly that they have had to be removed or will be removed.
Seven more specimens are being closely monitored by Rotherham Borough Council’s tree officers, while a further 17 have suffered minor damage.
Now senior councillors are asking for the support of the public in an effort to track down the vandals, saying the trees are a “massive loss” to the town and could cost £2,000 each to replace.
Over the past few months, they have stripped the bark off the trees — ornamental cherries, rowan and crab apple — that line Effingham and Frederick Streets, and Minster Yard.
Cllr Gerald Smith, the authority’s Cabinet member for environment and development services, said trees in the town centre have been damaged in the past, but that the problem has really escalated in recent months.
“It is absolutely sickening and has become a real problem,” he said.
“This is not minor damage.
“This is someone, or some people, systematically stripping the bark from the trunks of these trees, which results in them dying off and having to be removed.
“We are now we are asking that the public keep an eye out and report any suspicious behaviour to the police, who we have alerted to the problem.
“The trees in the town centre make all the difference to the environment and to lose them would be a massive loss. They are not cheap to replace either, costing about £2,000 each, which soon mounts up when so many are being affected.”
Anyone with information should contact Rotherham Streetpride on Rotherham 336003.