Alexandra Holiday Park owners Eric and Janice Graham have been left reeling after discovering last week that more than 30 gum trees on their campground had been deliberately poisoned.
Rows of drill holes line the bases of the trees and marks on the trunks indicate where poison has been sprayed inside.
The holes and shavings were left hidden by leaves and bark, and it was only when Mr Graham noticed dead leaves at the top of the trees that he inspected the bases and found the drill holes.
“It would have to be a pretty big drill because it’s hard wood,” Mrs Graham said.
“It’s just very disappointing that somebody would do that.
“It’s not a safe thing to do.”
Until the site is assessed there is no way of knowing when the dead trees will fall. With only weeks until the Christmas holidays, the couple are concerned they may not be able to have the trees removed in time.
“We have to get some professional help,” she said.
“There is nothing you can do to save them.”
Mrs Graham said the area beneath the trees was a popular camping area for families, but due to safety concerns the site would now have to be fenced off as the park approached its busiest time of year.
Mrs Graham said the couple had their suspicions about the culprit, but no proof.
“Someone rang us and told us but they said there would be no proof.
“What’s done is done. You can’t undo it, unfortunately.”
The police and the Otago Regional Council (ORC) had been notified, she said.
ORC environmental monitoring and operations director Scott MacLean said there were no council rules that governed the deliberate poisoning of trees on private property.
“Any issues associated with vandalism need to be directed to police as a police matter, as this is not under Otago Regional Council jurisdiction. Council does, however, have an interest in herbicide drift and if this occurs we urge residents to get in touch.”
A police spokesman said they were discussing the incident with the Grahams.
The rows of gum trees were already standing tall when the couple bought the park 14 years ago, Mrs Graham said.
“They are a good noise-blocker and they are a good wind-breaker. It is what it is.”
She warned other residents to monitor their own trees and check for signs of poisoning.
“We’re worried they’re going to kill someone.