Cook County sheriff: Tree cut down to stop visitors over COVID-19 concerns

A deputy responded to a report Monday of a very large tree that was blocking Minnesota Highway 61.

Getty Images

The Cook County Sheriff's Office has determined a tree was cut down to block Minnesota Highway 61 in response to an influx of visitors to the area and concerns about spreading COVID-19 to the county.

The Sheriff's Office posted a news release Monday on Facebook about the results of its investigation.

At 1:52 a.m. Monday, a deputy responded to a report of a very large tree that was blocking Highway 61 near the Lake County line. According to authorities, when a deputy responded, he found the tree was blocking both lanes of Highway 61 and was intentionally cut. The Minnesota Department of Transportation was called to remove the tree so the highway could be reopened.

Cook County Sheriff Pat Eliasen condemned the action in the news release, calling it "reckless" and "dangerous."

"The commission of this inappropriate act can carry very serious consequences," Eliasen said. "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."


The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact the sheriff at 218-387-3030 or

As of Monday morning, only Cook and Lake of the Woods counties have yet to report a positive case of COVID-19 in Minnesota.

What To Read Next
Get Local