Mountain pine beetle threatens Canada's pine forests and the industries that depend on them. Despite an ongoing infestation in British Columbia and Alberta, surveys have found no mountain pine beetles in northwestern Saskatchewan, and we're working to keep it that way. There is an established beetle population in Saskatchewan's southwest, in the Cypress Hills. Saskatchewan's ongoing management efforts are showing positive results.
Early detection is an important part of effective pest management. The Ministry of Environment looks for mountain pine beetle through aerial and ground surveys. From the air, surveyors look for red trees – a tell-tale sign that beetles have been attacking the tree for some time.
On the ground, surveyors check other trees near the red ones, looking for more beetles. If beetles are found, the surveyors expand their search area in a circle around infested trees, to locate all the trees attacked in the current year.
Once the infested trees are found and marked, the next step is a quick and aggressive response. The most effective control method is to find beetle infested trees in fall and winter, then cut them down and burn them before the beetles can leave and spread into the forest in the late spring.
Mountain pine beetle is a pest of regional and national significance so it makes sense to work with other jurisdictions on its management. Saskatchewan has developed partnerships with the federal government and other provinces and territories to do just that.
Through its work with the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers' Forest Pest Working Group, Saskatchewan has helped develop a framework to assess beetle risk and co-leads the development of a national response plan.
Under an agreement in place since 2011, Saskatchewan has worked with Alberta to control the spread of mountain pine beetles in Alberta, and stop them from moving eastward into Saskatchewan.