Sometime last weekend, when everything was dark and quiet, the University of Wisconsin grinch stole Christmas.

“Christmas,” in this sense, was an eight-foot, 23-year-old, Serbian spruce tree that used to stand near the Noland Zoology building.

“It looks like it was just basically chopped down,” said Karen Laurence of University Communications. “Part of the irony is that all weekend, the Forestry Club was selling Christmas trees, so it’s not like there were no other trees available.”

The theft of the tree reflects a common trend during the holiday season. Daniel Einstein, the environmental management coordinator at the university, recalled that, “Christmas-like trees, such as hemlocks and pines, have been stolen in the past. I can remember three or four trees in the last few years.”

“Someone sawed it down, jumped in a car and drove away,” Einstein said. “It’s important that this is seen as vandalism and selfishness. It’s inconsistent with the spirit of the season.”

According to the garden experts at Home Depot, a healthy tree will remain fresh with proper care for up to two months. A mature Siberian spruce would need over one quart of water and cool storage in order to remain attractive this long.

However, Einstein believes the damage has already been done.

“It’s dead; it’s gone,” he said. “There’s no plant-transplantation technology we can use to help it.”

“Every year we lose thousands of trees to construction,” said Laurence. “So its imperative that we keep as many as possible.”

Einstein agreed, saying, “We plant trees every spring. But there are fewer and fewer places on campus to plant them.”

Persons having information about the incident should call UW Police at 262-2957 or anonymously at Campus Crime Stoppers at 262-TIPS.

“I think everybody has to monitor their own behavior and search their conscience,” said Einstein on the thief or thieves. “Poaching a tree is wrong. Cutting them down for your own use is selfish vandalism.”