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Tuesday, 1 October, 2002, 14:41 GMT 15:41 UK
Illegal acorns for sale on net
The Major Oak
The Major Oak is thought to be 800 years old
Conservationists are hunting for a mystery thief who is targeting a famous tree.

The Major Oak in Sherwod Forest is reputed to have once sheltered Robin Hood.

Acorns from the protected tree are being offered for sale on the internet for hundreds of pounds.

Park authorities are using clues about the thief's identity in an attempt to stop the trade.

New threat

The Oak is estimated to be around 800 years old, with a girth of 33ft and weight of 23 tons.

Props support its branches, and a fence prevents visitors' feet from compacting soil over the its roots.

Rangers and specialist tree surgeons check its health regularly.

An acorn from the oak has been put up for sale, illegally, for 250 on the internet.

Mystery seller

The whole area around the tree is a site of special scientific interest and protected by law.

Nottinghamshire County council does allow groups and individuals to study and even plant major oak acorns, but with permission.

The internet auction site keeps the seller's identity hidden and so far the company has not responded to enquiries.

But the man has given some clues about himself.

Protected site

He lives in or near Edwinstowe, is six feet tall and around forty years old.

He is also keen on motor bikes and knows a fair bit about CB radio.

Sherwood Forest Country Park Manager Izi Banton, said: "We are taking legal advice on the matter but we would remind everybody this is a protected site."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Dave Harper
"He may think he's on to a nice little earner, but he's no Robin Hood"

Click here to go to Nottingham
See also:

16 Aug 02 | England
14 Jan 02 | England
27 Sep 01 | England
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