BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Vandalism is often senseless, but a Catonsville neighborhood is trying to grapple with why anyone would want to attack dozens of Japanese cherry trees on an Edmondson Avenue median.

WJZ’s Alex DeMetrick was given a tour of the damage Wednesday.

“This is the knife cut all the way around the tree,” said Jim Himel of the Catonsville Tree Canopy Project, showing WJZ’s cameras the mark. “This is the half inch hole drilled into the tree, probably to inject some herbicide.”

Himel says all 32 cherry trees planted there have the same wounds. Five died quickly and were cut down. Ten others are showing severe stress, and others could follow.

“The brown leaves, that’s the herbicide damage,” he says.

The cuts, called girdling, reduce the trees ability to take up water, so the trees are being pruned.

“By reducing the amount of canopy or foliage, we’re reducing the tree’s need to bring water up from the roots,” Himel says.

The cherry trees are the same variety as the ones in Washington. Hoping to bring a bit of that beauty to the neighborhood when they planted them, residents have been left wondering why this happened.

“With people just totally not believing that somebody would come through and do this,” Himel says.

Police are investigating, although a firm motive and a suspect remain unknown. Investigators say it happened this week.

Despite the loss, neighbors are not giving up on the trees. More will be planted.

In the meantime, the survivors will be cared for.

The dollar loss of the trees depends on how many are eventually lost. Cherry trees the size of the ones damaged can run as high as $500 each.

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