OTTAWA – The federal government has slapped further restrictions on ash tree shipments in Ontario after inspectors found evidence the invasive beetle is spreading northward.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says a lone male emerald ash borer was discovered on Manitoulin Island, only weeks after it was found in the Ottawa area, to the east.
A national survey has now confirmed the highly destructive beetle in 25 Ontario counties and three areas of Quebec.
The emerald ash borer does not pose a risk to human health but it is lethal to ash trees.
It has already killed millions of ash trees in Ontario and the northeastern United States, and poses a major economic threat to urban and forested areas of North America.
Authorities have ordered restrictions in the affected areas prohibiting the movement of all ash material, such as logs, branches and wood chips, as well as all species of firewood.
Further regulatory measures are being considered.
“(The emerald ash borer) can spread rapidly if it is moved by people,” says a statement from the food-inspection agency.
“The most important way to limit the spread of this invasive beetle is to avoid moving potentially infested ash materials, as well as all species of firewood, to non-infested areas.”
The agency pledged to work with affected stakeholders and First Nations communities, as well as federal, provincial and municipal governments, in efforts to slow its spread.
The emerald ash borer was first discovered in Windsor, Ont., and Detroit in 2002. It is believed to have been brought to North America from eastern Asia in wood-packaging material in the early 1990s. It went undetected until its population built up to damaging levels.
Scientists in Canada and the United States have concluded the beetle can’t be eradicated.
In light of this, Canadian authorities adopted a “slow-the-spread” approach, which includes a country-wide campaign of surveillance, regulation, enforcement and communications.
“To help limit the spread … a ministerial order has been enacted to regulate areas infested by the pest,” says the agency.
“This will help to restrict the movement of ash tree articles and firewood. This is needed because moving these items contributes to the beetle spreading.”