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Park rangers hunt tree poachers with science

Wildlife poaching may conjure images of elephants, rhinos, and whales, but plants, too, face danger from illegal harvesting. Specifically, California’s redwoods and their burls—large bulbous growths valuable in furnituremaking—have become a common target for thieves. Now, using a combination of microscopy, chemical tests, and traditional crime scene investigation techniques park rangers are fighting back, Smithsonian Magazine reports. Tracking the vandalism has revealed that most of the poaching occurs within 120 meters of a road and that thieves often return to the same areas multiple times, much like a burglar returning to the same neighborhood over and over.

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