Under little more than moonlight, someone or some people have been carrying out an environmental crime off Biscayne Bay, cutting down decades-old mangrove trees in the backyard of Palmetto Bay Vice Mayor John DuBois.
He's now offering a $50,000 reward to catch the culprit.
"I wouldn't consider this a prank, I think this was a very purposeful act," DuBois said.
The purpose, for now, is unknown, and may have been going on for days. DuBois happened by the damage around 10 o'clock Monday morning in his boat. He was tipped off by his barking dogs before he spotted mangrove branches floating in the bay.
Up close, he saw the damage to a cluster of red and white mangrove trees on a peninsula just behind his home. He found several large branches haphazardly severed and left rotting on the ground. DuBois said more than 100 cuts were made to trees and brush around the peninsula tip.
DuBois called Miami-Dade Police. Detectives were dispatched to the scene, where they took photos and deduced that the culprit likely used handsaws to slash the branches.
Damaging mangroves can lead to felony charges in South Florida because the trees are significant for the region's coastal ecosystems. They provide food, shelter and breeding grounds for sea life and wildlife, in addition to filtering out pollutants.
Fed up by the destruction the damage has caused, DuBois said he hopes his $50,000 reward reels in the eco-crime crooks.
Anyone with information is encouraged to call Miami-Dade Police at 305-278-4012.