Margaret Thompson stands in front of a Garry oak in her yard that appears to have been poisoned and is now nearly dead.  Thompson made the sign that sits at the top of her driveway on Wellsview Road in Cordova Bay.

Margaret Thompson stands in front of a Garry oak in her yard that appears to have been poisoned and is now nearly dead. Thompson made the sign that sits at the top of her driveway on Wellsview Road in Cordova Bay.

Saanich homeowner suspects oak tree deliberately poisoned

Saanich arborist finds evidence that somebody tampered with the tree

The Garry oak tree in Margaret Thompson’s front yard typically prospers in the summer, with a full, leafy canopy that blooms in the spring providing ample shade for her Wellsview Road home in Cordova Bay.

But this year the tree is patchy – mostly brown – with the majority of the leaves that remain hanging dead and dry.

“This spring the tree started to leaf as usual, and one side of it was in full leaf but the other side got to the bud stage and then it sort of froze and nothing materialized,” Thompson says. “It was bare on one side and kind of leafy on the other. And then very quickly the leafy side started to turn brown and die, and a good portion of the tree now is brown and dead.”

Fearing the tree may have succumbed to sudden oak death, Thompson contacted a Saanich arborist in late June to determine what happened. The arborist, however, found evidence that somebody had tampered with the tree.

“Doing his visual inspection, our arborist looked at the base of the tree and noted there was five holes dug into the trunk and backfilled with dirt,” said Cory Manton, Saanich’s manager of urban forestry and natural areas. “We can’t unequivocally say what killed the tree, but I think we’re putting two and two together, with holes and die-off.”

Thompson and Manton suspect the tree was poisoned – possibly injected with a herbicide.

“It paints a negative view of the neighbourhood. It’s unnerving to think that somebody’s creeping around and doing this. And I’m just really sad that somebody had so little regard for living things they will wantonly destroy a living entity,” Thompson said. “I’m outraged.”

Saanich police Sgt. Steve Eassie says investigators followed up on information Thompson provided and spoke to a potential suspect, but no further action will be taken.

“The unfortunate thing is it’s extremely difficult to prove who would be responsible unless there was some evidence we would be able to get,” he said, but suggested that Thompson could pursue a civil suit against the person she believes is responsible. “With the balance of probabilities, I would think she stands a pretty good chance from a civil standpoint.”

Manton says it’s only speculation that the tree was poisoned, but holes were bored into the trunk and then refilled with dirt.

“I don’t want to speculate, but it certainly would be concerning if you found out it was some sort of poison,” he said. “I’d be concerned that people would go to that extent.”

Thompson is convinced, however, that the tree was purposefully killed. A sign displayed on her lawn reads: “This oak tree is not diseased. It has been deliberately poisoned.”

She will now look at getting the dead tree removed from her property, though she contemplated leaving “the skeleton tree standing as a perpetual reproach” to the person who killed the tree.

“This is what I would like to say to the author of this mischief … what you did to the tree was despicable,” Thompson begins. “Here you are, right on my doorstep, slaughtering a tree that, for all its strengths, is defenceless against your malice. What happens the next time something, or someone, gets in your way? … You are poison.”

kslavin@saanichnews.com

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Environment Canada has issued a wind warning for Greater Victoria, with winds expected to get up to 70 km/h Friday morning. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Wind warning promises blustery Friday for Greater Victoria

Winds up to 70 km/h expected Friday morning

Passengers in rows 13 to 19 on Air Canada Jazz flight 8069 from Vancouver to Victoria Feb. 28 were exposed to a case of COVID-19. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
COVID-19 exposure found on flight from Vancouver to Victoria

Passengers in rows 13 to 19 on Air Canada Jazz flight 8069 Feb. 28 affected

Low interest rates have acted as a catalyst for the pandemic real estate market. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy)
Real estate sales surging across Greater Victoria but risks lie ahead

Single family home prices jump nine per cent over past year while condo values remain stable

Crews deal with a rock slide on the Malahat section of Highway 1 in 2017. (Black Press Media file photo)
Rock work closes Highway 1 in Langford for spurts

Friday closures could delay drivers up to 20 minutes

Crews disassemble the iconic red and white KFC bucket from a sign on Goldstream Avenue. (Photo courtesy of Mark Schoor)
Iconic KFC bucket removed from Goldstream Avenue

Popular fast-food chain closes Langford location

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of March 2

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: How’s your butter?

Recent reports have some Canadians giving a second look to one of… Continue reading

The intersection of Melrose Street and Third Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Suspect in custody after two pedestrians struck in Port Alberni hit and run

RCMP asking for video footage, credit witnesses for quick arrest

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Comox Valley RCMP raid Courtenay problem house, several arrests made

Comox Valley RCMP conducted a raid of a problem house on 20th… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

A Cowichan Valley mom is wondering why masks haven’t been mandated for elementary schools. (Metro Creative photo)
B.C. mom frustrated by lack of mask mandate for elementary students

“Do we want to wait until we end up like Fraser Health?”

(Pxhere)
B.C. research reveals how pandemic has changed attitudes towards sex, health services

CDC survey shows that 35 per cent of people were worried about being judged

Most Read