Smokey Bear Field sign stolen from Manorville nature preserve
Authorities say the Otis Pike Preserve-West Smokey Bear Field sign was stolen from the Manorville grassland.
In August, the state Department of Conservation dedicated the 20-acre field to Smokey Bear, the national mascot for fire prevention, in recognition of his 75th anniversary.
The sign itself is missing and the post where it hung has been hacked to pieces.
Ranger John Gagne called it “very disappointing.”
"It's probably the significance of the Smokey Bear sign as a reason why this one was stolen," he told News 12.
The field is used by the DEC to set controlled fires and work with fire departments.
"We get training out of it but also wildlife habitat improvement. It helps out with the warm season grasses," says Gagne.
The DEC manages thousands of acres of land in the Central Pine Barrens region. Forest rangers and environmental conservation officers are teaming up to find whoever stole the sign.
The DEC is asking anyone with information about the sign to call its Office of Public Protection at 518-408-5858.