COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Timber theft has become a growing concern in Ohio, with poachers targeting trees on both state- and privately-owned property.

“It’s something that the public doesn’t get to see this tree anymore and it’s taken a hundred or more years to grow these trees,” said Jared Craig, land management administrator for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Forestry.

While walking through Ohio’s Scioto Trail State Park, Craig said he often becomes disheartened to see the remains of timber theft throughout the woods.

“So, this just happened within the last month, we’re still finding that timber poaching is an ongoing issue in our forests,” Craig said, pointing to a fallen tree on the ground.

For years, ODNR has been tracking the rise in timber thefts across the state, most of them happening to the Black Walnut tree, a rarer timber in Ohio.

In the past decade, the price of black walnut has gone up from less than $1,000 to up $2,050 for trees that are approximately 40 inches in diameter.

“Those are higher priced trees, used for higher-end products like furniture, flooring, and cabinetry,” Craig said.

Over the years, ODNR said it has gotten better at finding and recovering stolen logs at sawmills, as well as pressing charges against those who commit these thefts.

However, lumber theft is an issue it wants everyone to be aware of.

“You know when these criminals come in and take these trees, this is everybody’s tax dollars that they’re taking,” Craig said.