Mountain pine beetles could be heading to Saskatchewan

Posted: September 4, 2012

Source: The Meadow Lake Progress

Blue Stain T&GThe mountain pine beetle is making its away across western Canada, said the ministry ofenvironment.

The Saskatchewan ministry of environment is partnering with Great Western Forestry to mark and remove infested trees in northwest Saskatchewan as well as the Cypress Hills area.

“The mountain pine beetle represents a significant threat to Saskatchewan’s pine forests and to the environment, social and economic contributions they make to our quality of life,” environment minister Ken Cheveldayoff said in a press release.

Mountain Pine Beetles have been in British Columbia for a number of years.

Mountain Pine beetles are known to attack lodgepole, ponderosa, sugar and western white pines, said a study from the US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.

More recently the beetle has been moving across the Rocky Mountains in Alberta destroying jack pine trees along the way.

The ministry of environment confirmed that there is the research of the beetle in jack pine in the mountains, proves they could also survive in Saskatchewan.

Mountain Pine Beetles in Saskatchewan could prove a significant risk to the forestry industry, Cheveldayoff said.

“Jack pine makes up 40 per cent of Saskatchewan’s softwood volume upon which a significant portion of our forest industry depends on,” Cheveldayoff said. “The mountain pine beetle program will help protect the long-term sustainability of Saskatchewan’s forest and its industry, which currently accounts for more than 2,600 direct jobs and more than $400 million annual product sales.”

The first sign of tree dying from beetle infestation is discoloured leaves, said the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The beetle has natural enemies such as an internal parasitic worm and woodpeckers. Woodpeckers are known to feed on larvae, research from the department of agriculture said.

Trees can also resist the beetle by filling the hole of the burrowing beetle with pitch. The tree needs good weather, a small attack and a strong sap content in order to resist the beetle.

In order to help prevent the spread of the beetle into Saskatchewan the government of Saskatchewan has contributed $450,000 to control efforts in Alberta.

A regional strategy is the best approach, the ministry said.

Surveys of Saskatchewan’s forest are set to begin in September and be done around November.

The survey done last year revealed that the beetle was not in Saskatchewan at this time.