Out-of-town sap tappers leave Ely boiling

The people of Ely, Minn., have just about had it with the out-of-town maple syrup gangs.

The Ely Timberjay reports an influx of out of towners is tapping every maple tree in town in search of sap, and it’s ruining things for the locals.

“I asked the Police Department to find out who these people are with the blue-bagged taps and where they are from. If they are doing this commercially, see if they have a Department of Health license, and if they are a registered business,” Mayor Chuck Novak says.”

Novak says it’s theft of public property and it’s making things difficult for locals who tap trees as a spring ritual, boil down the sap, then give the maple syrup to friends.

But the out-of-towners are different. They’re trying to make a buck.

“Apparently, the same party is tapping every tree in town. It has gotten out of hand and we should move to address this,” Council member Paul Kess said.

“This is unfair and there has to be a way to patrol this,” one councilmember said. The council, however, took no action this week on a proposed $2,000 fee for out-of-town tappers.

The city’s Trees Board is considering an ordinance banning tree tapping.

“While we prefer that community members refrain from tapping our older silver maples, banning the tapping of the older trees would likely be contentious and does not seem worth acting on, given that the trees are near the ends of their lives” The Tree Board said, according to the Timberjay. “Education in the present and not allowing tapping in the future is the best way to proceed.”