SISTER BAY - Damage to a cherry orchard is being investigated in Door County. Hundreds of young cherry trees were chopped down earlier this week.
On Thursday, Jim Seaquist learned about the destruction on his 25-acre orchard that is located four miles north of Sister Bay on Highway 42. Seaquist said sometime between late Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon, the tops of 639 young cherry trees were cut off.
"It looks to us like they just used a hand lopper, a hand pruning lopper," he said.
The trees are about a half-inch in diameter. After seeing the four-foot trees chopped, Seaquist contacted police.
"There's not a lot of evidence here, so we're just offering a $1,000 reward for anyone that will give us information that leads us to an arrest and conviction because we don't want this activity in our neighborhood," he said.
Seaquist estimated the destruction will cost the family business about $20,000. The trees had been growing since April, and could have been harvested in five years. Thirteen workers spent three weeks planting the trees.
"They're probably more upset than I am," said Seaquist. "To me, it's kind of a sad reflection that there's someone that's going to do this."
As weekend visitors shopped for Seaquist's cherry products at their market, some longtime customers from Fond du Lac couldn't believe such a crime had taken place.
"I just can't imagine doing something like that to anybody, that's just awful," said Jason Ehlert.
"I always thought Door County was a very special place where things like that didn't happen," added Jason's mother, Priscilla Ehlert.
The Door County Sheriff's Department is investigating the destruction of property. Anyone with information is asked to give the department a call at (920) 746-2400.
Seaquist said new trees will be planted next spring, but they'll be a full year behind others on the orchard. He has no idea who is responsible for the damage.
Seaquist's family has been farming in the area since the early 1900s. He said this is the first time they've ever been targeted by vandals.
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