MOSCOW, Idaho – The University of Idaho’s landscape crew sprayed about 200 trees on campus with a natural repellent of skunk scent, fox urine, and a sticking agent. It’s all to protect the trees from theft and destruction during the holiday season.

The tree-spraying program started back in 1990 and has drastically reduced the number of tree thefts on campus. According to officials, U of I would lose four or five evergreen trees each holiday season. The repellent stays on the trees for about four weeks and does not harm the evergreens or the environment.

U of I officials said the repellent is hard to notice while in colder temperatures outdoors, but it becomes very odorous once indoors. The smell from the repellent can stay in a room and on furniture for a long time, according to officials.

Signs are posted around the U of I campus to deter tree thieves, but not all treated trees are marked. The cost of replacing landscape evergreen trees ranges from $500 to $1,000, depending on the species and location of the tree on campus.

Stealing or vandalizing an evergreen tree on U of I’s campus could result in a felony charge.

Anyone with knowledge about campus tree thefts should contact the Moscow Police Department.