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Pine beetle spreads like wildfire in Alberta


July 24, 2007
By Pulp & Paper Canada

Edmonton, AB–The mountain pine beetle is wreaking havoc in Alberta, and the effects are spreading.

Edmonton, AB–The mountain pine beetle is wreaking havoc in Alberta, and the effects are spreading.

The signs of infestation are going to be very visible – trees attacked and kiled last year by pine beetles are fading and turning red, Provincial mountain pine beetle coordinator Dan Lux confirmed. Lux also noted that the offspring of beetles that attacked Alberta pine trees in 2006 are now emerging and are flying in search of other trees to infest. Each beetle-attacked tree contains enough insects to infest between five to ten more trees.

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The number of beetle-attacked trees in the western province has drastically increased from 19,000 a year ago to more than three million today. The inflated number is largely the result of a massive flight of beetles from B.C. to the Grand Prairie and Peace regions of northwest Alberta in July 2006. Substantial beetle populations are also in southwestern Alberta.

Surveys of over-winter survival rates of beetle larvae conducted this spring point to a continuing threat to the provinces pine forests, particularly in the southwest.

The Alberta government has been monitoring the spread of the insect and is undertaking single-tree cutting and burning projects. Forest companies have been asked to change their harvesting schedules to focus on infested and at-risk pine stands. The province has also replaced some of the older pines with younger trees that are less vulnerable to attack.


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