By Jon Bishop

HARVARD — You’ve probably seen Smokey the Bear as you’ve driven down Ayer Road.

He’s standing atop a sign, holding a shovel, looking friendly yet serious. It’s as if he’s guarding all of the trees and mountains behind him. Next to him is information about the chances of a forest fire and underneath is the familiar slogan about prevention. He’s been there for more than a decade.

But now he’s gone.

According to a Facebook post from the Harvard Fire Department, Smokey recently went missing. And they don’t have much information.

The sign, Fire Chief Rick Sicard said, had been stolen before, but “this was a little different.”

He said that the vandals “actually cut Smokey right at the sign,” causing damage.

People who commented on the initial Facebook post weren’t happy.

“Oh, no,” wrote Jennifer Sundeen. “Poor Smokey!”

Sally Dancause wrote she hopes that the sign will be returned soon, and she echoed Sicard, noting that the vandalism “looks so destructive.”

“It was so sad to see how they cut him down,” she wrote.

Denise Neil DeAngelis called Smokey’s departure “very sad.”

Anyone with information about the Smokey the Bear sign should contact the Harvard Fire Department at 978-456-3648.