Hunt still on for Captain Coppice

THREE days into a hunt for a phantom woodchopper lurking in a Suffolk nature reserve, experts have today admitted his actions have left them completely baffled.

THREE days into a hunt for a phantom woodchopper lurking in a Suffolk nature reserve, experts have today admitted his actions have left them completely baffled.

The woodsman - nicknamed Captain Coppice - has been secretly felling trees with a pruning saw at Needham Lake.

He appears to be helping countryside staff at Mid Suffolk district council as he is only chopping down trees they were planning to get rid of and shows no signs of malice.

The case is baffling tree surgeons from the area who have not heard anything about their new opposition through the industry grapevine.

The felled trees are between ten and 15 years old and around 25ft high and tree experts in the area say Captain Coppice must have experience in the trade to fell trees of that size.

Daniel Whitehall, from Chipper-Tech, Haughley, said: "I've never heard anything like it before.

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"The council are saying they are doing a professional job and it would take someone with knowledge and training to cut down trees of that size and age and do it professionally.

"You couldn't just jump in with a saw and start doing it."

Marcus Bullnan, from MB Trees, Stowmarket, said: "It doesn't take much skill to coppice young trees but the bigger they get, the harder it is.

"I can't imagine why they are doing it unless they genuinely want to help - or if they want the wood."

The district council launched a search for Captain Coppice this week.

The Evening Star revealed he is believed to be a man in his 50s who works with a black Labrador dog by his side.

Countryside staff at the council were tipped-off by a walker who stopped and spoke to him after an appeal for information.

It remains the only clue to the captain's identity to date.

The council yesterday threatened the captain with legal action if he failed to come out of hiding and stop doing unauthorised work.

Staff say they want to work in partnership with him but cannot take the risk he will start doing work that is not needed if he carries on doing it alone.

Do you know Captain Coppice's real identity? Has he struck elsewhere? Contact The Evening Star newsdesk on 01473 324789.

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