Tree tests positive for Dutch elm disease in Saskatoon park

Starting Tuesday, crews will begin removing a tree infected with Dutch elm disease from Leif Erickson Park in Saskatoon. City of Saskatoon / Supplied

One case of Dutch elm disease (DED) has been confirmed in a Saskatoon tree, according to the City of Saskatoon on Monday.

Crews will start removing the infected tree located in the Westmount neighbourhood on Tuesday, read a press release.

“(DED) is a serious disease of the American elm, and elm makes up about 25 per cent of Saskatoon’s urban forest,” entomologist Sydney Worthy said in a statement.

“The disease was introduced into North America in the 1930s and has since spread mainly through the transport of firewood and lumber. It has wiped out millions of elms across Canada and the United States and has been present in Saskatchewan since the 1980s.

“Saskatoon had a reposted case in September last year.”

Read more: Dutch elm disease confirmed in Saskatoon’s Montgomery Place neighbourhood

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Officials said DED is caused by two species of fungi, both of which are transmitted by elm bark beetles as well as tree-to-tree through root grafts and pruning tools. They added it blocks water movement and eventually leads to death of the entire tree.

The most effective management strategy for DED is to not transport or store elm wood. Infected firewood is the most likely way that DED would be brought into Saskatoon.

The city’s parks inspectors issued 71 infraction notices — 46 of which contained elm firewood — and removed over 13 tonnes of elm wood from private property in 2020.

“This discovery of (DED) demonstrates that our ongoing surveillance and screening procedures work,” Darren Crilly, the city’s parks director, said in a statement.

“Our response plan has been effective in ensuring we identify diseased trees early on, limiting the spread of the disease through rapid removal.”

According to the city, surveillance and testing continues to assess elm trees in the Leif Erickson Park area and, based on the results, there may be further removals.

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