Locals are furious after a mile of stunning trees were chopped down – because SQUIRRELS were gnawing at branches which then fell in front of drivers.
Hundreds of beautiful beeches 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 in Cornwall at the start of December.
Officials at the fancy Boconnoc Estate, near Lostwithiel, Cornwall, which can be rented for private functions, say Highways England asked them to cut them down.
Safety checks had found squirrels were biting bark off trees causing branches to fall in the way of cars.
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.”
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?”
The estate features a 750-year-old stately home where Charles I hid during the English Civil War.
Now, instead of the beech trees, 4ft of bare stumps now line the road.
“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.