Sticky-fingered thieves target maple sap in Maine

“For us it falls into this big category of things people not showing respect for adjacent property. They probably wouldn’t dream of tapping their neighbor’s trees,” Ms. McKeague said.

Or maybe they would. In eastern Maine, taps showed up in trees at a cemetery in Calais.

“That was the first year they’d been put in trees at the cemetery, and that’s what ruffled people’s feathers,” said Carmen Small of nearby Robbinston. “Doing it at a cemetery is sacrilegious and disrespectful. It freaked my husband out because his family’s buried right under one of the trees.”

The taps were removed after Calais city workers left a note asking their owner to take them away.

Ranger Liba said he’s not aware of anybody being criminally charged for illegal tapping, but he caught one person in the act this year. That man is now working with the landowner and a mediator on how to make amends.

People sometimes think because Maine has a long tradition of open access to land for hunting and fishing, the right extends to other things as well — including tapping trees, Ranger Liba said.

“I think they’re viewing it as an extension of being able to go out and use property without permission,” he said.

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