Police have launched a probe into whether a tree in Sandwell was mauled by a dog being trained by its owner to fight.
Residents have been left shocked after discovering huge strips of bark have been ripped from the tree in Bearwood Park some time this week.
There have been problems nationally with dogs being goaded to attack trees in order to strengthen their jaws and jumping ability.
Bull terrier-type dogs have been spotted in Bearwood Park recently and police and park bosses have now launched an investigation.
Bearwood councillor Bob Piper said there had been reports of fighting dogs being trained to attack trees in Warley Woods and believes this to be the case this time.
Speaking on his online blog he said: “If you look at the photograph you will see the horrific damage that has been done to a tree in Lightwoods Park. “It is thought that this may have been done by a dog, let off the leash by a totally irresponsible owner and then the dog rakes and bites/peels the bark off the trees.
“One particularly aggressive dog was witnessed doing this not long ago and if it continues it will have devastating consequences.
“There are a large number of historic trees in the park and this could result in damage to the point that they may need to be felled or have emergency treatment to make them safe – missing bark will result in rot.”
There have been various cases of dog attacks on people in the Black Country in recent years and a Birmingham City Council report in March named West Bromwich, Willenhall, Halesowen and Wednesfield in a list of eight hotspots for dog attacks in the West Midlands. Cases include nine-year-old Joshua Jones, who was bitten in his right thigh by a pit-bull type dog as he sat on a bench in Ratcliffe Park, West Bromwich, in May 2010.