Lethbridge: As of Friday, a province wide ban on pruning Elm trees is in effect and runs until September 30th.
It's a continuing effort to ensure that Dutch Elm Disease doesn't find its way into Alberta. City of Lethbridge Urban Forestry Technician, Lindsay Bell talks about the major concern he has with pruning Elm's after the ban goes into effect. "This is the time of year that Elm Bark Beetles, the carrier of the Dutch Elm Disease Fungus, start coming out and moving around. If you're pruning your trees, you're opening up wounds that will actually attract the beetles to your trees."
Bell says homeowners need to watch their trees for a specific sign of beetle infestation. "One of the big things that we'll be looking for this spring is Elm trees that just don't leaf out. Typically in Southern Alberta we do get some trees that leaf out a little later than others, depending on their location or winter injuries. But, if your tree is showing no signs of leafing out at all, that's a big cause for concern and something that we have to take a look at."
If an Elm becomes infected by the beetles and DED fungus, its fate is sealed. Bell talks about what would happen should an infected tree be found in our city. "We would probably remove that tree. At this time there is no Dutch Elm Disease in the province of Alberta. We are monitoring. If we do find a tree, what we would do is get rid of that tree as soon as possible to prevent infection of other trees."
If DED were to be brought in on fire wood, for example, the spread of the disease could be fast and fierce. "One of the big things that we really push is not transporting fire wood. The beetles themselves are very small, and one piece of fire wood could hold up to 1,500 Elm Bark Beetles.
The City of Lethbridge has a free Dutch Elm Disease hot-line. If you're concerned about your Elm, or you're seeing symptoms of DED or your tree isn't leafing out this spring, you should call. The phone number is 403-320-3075. If you're outside of Lethbridge there is a provincial hot-line. That number is 1-877-837-3567.