MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — County sheriffs and state natural resource officials are trying to respond to a rash of thefts of birch trees in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Thieves are quickly cutting down the young, paper-white trees. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports the logs are sold to city residents who want a touch of the northwoods in their homes.

Chief Deputy Mike Richter with the Washburn County Sheriff's Office in Wisconsin says birch trees have been poached in at least 15 to 20 locations in his county alone.

Conservation officer Dave Zebro of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says thieves take chain saws to birch groves and are "gone before anyone sees them" or authorities can respond.

Birch thieves also are cutting down whole strands across the Iron Range of northern Minnesota.

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