Two Teenagers Who Pulled Bark Off A Tree Face Felony Charges

| by Lisa Fogarty

Two young teen boys – ages 13 and 14 – have been charged with felonies after they reportedly stripped bark off a tree on school property in Mason City, Iowa.

Naomi Wells says she was in shock watching her son, Parker Niles, have his mug shot taken and suffer from what she thinks are “extreme” charges: second-degree criminal mischief, which is a Class D felony, reports Mason City Globe Gazette. He and Devon Barkema, 14, reportedly removed the bark from a mature tree that was located on the grounds of Roosevelt Elementary on Aug. 5. The bark was reportedly falling off the tree and he and his friends yanked it off so they could carve their initials into the tree.

As a result of the incident, Wells has had to jump through hoops to get positive referrals from her son’s teachers. She says that, other than serving detention once for not turning in an assignment, Parker has never been in trouble before.

“I guess as a parent, I should be at fault for not teaching him that pulling bark off a tree will kill it,” Wells said. “I made sure to cover sex, drugs, drinking, responsibility, honesty and God, but trees, that one slipped my mind.”

The felony charges brought against them were the result of a quote provided by Cutting Edge Tree Services that estimated the cost to remove and replace the tree would be $1,166, says Mason City Police Sgt. Dave Houser.

“I thought it was high to begin with, but how do you come up with a cost of a tree?” Houser said.

But a different tree service called Blanchard Tree Services reportedly gave Wells a much lower estimate of $475, she says, and she’s angry that she wasn’t able to work out the cost with the city before charges were filed. The lower estimate would have meant her son wouldn’t face felony charges.

Mason City Community Schools issued the following statement: “The school district continues to work closely with the Police Department and families through this process.” Parker has not been pulled from classes, but has been suspended from all extracurricular activities for 28 days.

Source: Mason City Globe Gazette

Photo Credit: N i c o l a/ Flickr