The Cook County Sheriff's Office responded early Monday morning to a fallen tree across the highway that they believe was intentionally cut down.

According to a Facebook post from the Cook County Sheriff's Office & Public Safety, a deputy responded to a fallen tree across Highway 61 along the North Shore.

At 1:52am there was a report of a very large tree that was blocking the highway near the county line. When a deputy responded, he saw that the tree was blocking both lanes of Highway 61 and was intentionally cut for this purpose. MN DOT needed to be called out to remove the tree so the highway could be opened up.

Google Maps

(Cook County is highlighted in red in the upper northeast corner of the state)

The Facebook post goes on to say that through investigation, the sheriff's department believes the tree was cut down intentionally " in response to the influx of visitors to our area and the concerns of spreading COVID-19 to Cook County."

"This type of action is reckless, dangerous and uncalled for," said Sheriff Pat Eliasen. "The commission of this inappropriate act can carry very serious consequences. If there was a medical transport to Duluth which was a life or death matter and the ambulance was unable to continue due to this irresponsible conduct, the cost is far greater than making this type of statement. Not only does this endanger motorists, but there is also a significant cost to the taxpayers for removal of the tree.”

The post concludes, saying that the department will continue to investigate and asks anyone with information to contact Sheriff Eliasen at 218-387-3030 or pat.eliasen@co.cook.mn.us.

Cook County is one of just two Minnesota counties that has not yet seen a confirmed case of COVID-19; the other is Lake of the Woods County.

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