Squirrels blamed as hundreds of trees are reduced to stumps along…
A mile of beautiful beech trees on the A38 have been felled - because squirrels were gnawing at branches which then fell in front of drivers.
Hundreds of trees were reduced to stumps over claims the chomping rodents made them a danger to motorists.
The trees were coppiced along the busy A38 between Bodmin and Dobwalls at the start of December. Safety checks had found squirrels were biting bark off trees causing branches to fall in the way of cars.
Officials at the Boconnoc Estate, near Lostwithiel, which can be rented for private functions, say Highways England asked them to cut them down.
But the decision has infuriated locals - who say around 750 trees have been given the chop.
One large stump stands out in a line of 'mutilated' beeches at the roadside.
Local Sue Downey, 65, of Truro, Cornwall, said: "As a tree lover I found it a shocking sight, mutilated beeches. I nearly crashed the car because the sight was so unbearable I had to keep looking away.
"I believe these trees are too mature and established to give any significant re-growth. Cornwall can't afford to lose such beautiful tree specimens - we need to bring back the beech."
A digger at the scene of the chopped trees.
Libby Pidcock, 67, of Bodmin, added: "I'm appalled, it looks like the trees have been vandalised, they look like jagged teeth."
And Barbara Atyeo, 74, from St Austell, said: "This is legalised vandalism. Trees are precious and while accepting necessity for safety surely they could have been pruned more sympathetically?"
Now, instead of the beech trees, 4ft of bare stumps now line the road.
Land agent Richard Morris said: "The overgrown beech hedging along the Glynn Valley has become dangerous as a result of squirrel damage causing trees to drop branches onto the A38.
"At the request of the Highways Agency we have coppiced the trees which will now be maintained as a high beech hedge in the future."
The Forestry Commission said squirrel damage to trees in Cornwall is becoming an issue.
Damage caused by grey squirrels costs the British forestry sector around £6million a year.