British Columbia

Have you seen the cottonwood killer? Kelowna RCMP seeks witnesses after deliberate poisoning of mature tree

A police file has been opened after someone poisoned an 18-metre-tall cottonwood in a park in Kelowna, B.C., by drilling holes into it and filling them with herbicide. It is the third incident of deliberate tree killing in the city in the past 12 months.

It's the 3rd such incident in the city in 12 months

A group of trees sits in the shadow of a tall condo tower. One of the trees is taller than the rest and barren of leaves. It is a sunny day and the sky is bright blue in the background.
An 18-metre-tall cottonwood tree in a Kelowna, B.C., park (second from right with sparse and shrivelled leaves) is the latest victim of tree vandalism in the city after someone drilled several holes into it and filled them with herbicide. (CBC News/Brady Strachan)

Mac Logan is getting tired of seeing mature trees being intentionally poisoned in Kelowna, B.C., and is now asking for witnesses to come forward after a third such incident in the city in 12 months.

Logan, infrastructure manager for the City of Kelowna, says an RCMP investigation has been opened after a mature cottonwood in a small city park was deliberately vandalized. 

The 18-metre-tall tree, located at 1055 Sunset Dr., had more than two dozen drill holes in it that Logan said were filled with herbicide.

"We don't believe it's going to survive," said Logan of the tree.

City arborists expect the tree, which is the largest in the park and provides ample shade in summer months, will be completely dead within weeks.

It's not the first time of late that Logan and his colleagues have seen a tree poisoned this way.

Last August, a large elm located at 900 Manhattan Dr., along with several aspens in the Kuipers Peak neighbourhood, were killed using the same technique.

A close-up shot of the cottonwood trunk shows a ring of evenly-spaced holes drilled into it.
Twenty-five holes were drilled into the cottonwood and then filled with herbicide. The tree also had wrapping removed that protected it from beavers. (CBC News/Brady Strachan)

While Logan does not know for sure the motive behind destroying these trees, he has his theories.

"You can't just cut down trees because they are maybe in your view," said Logan, who suspects this latest incident was to improve sight lines for someone's property.

Local couple Vickie and Jim Gurney were horrified to see the state of the tree when they rode their bikes by the park. 

"It's just really unfortunate that some people view themselves as so important that their view is more important than anyone else, or nature," said Jim Gurney. 

Logan is hoping that by speaking out about the cottonwood killing, witnesses who saw someone tampering with the tree will come forward. 

He said it would have taken time to drill 25 holes and it would not have been possible to do so quietly, so it may have required multiple visits to the tree to get the job done. The tree also had its protective wrapping removed that was used to protect it from local beavers.

Vickie Gurney hopes whoever did the deed pays the price.

"It was pretty brazen the way they did it and I just hope they get caught," she said. "Shame on them."

Logan said taxpayers will have to pay a hefty price for the tree's removal, which will likely require a crane.

"There are thousands of dollars worth of effort that are going to be expended at the taxpayers' expense that didn't need to happen," he said.

Anyone who may have witnessed, or has information relating to, this incident is asked to call Kelowna RCMP at 250-762-3300 referencing file number 2023-800746.

If callers want to remain anonymous, they can contact Central Okanagan Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or leave an online tip at

With files from Brady Strachan