Good news about mountain pine beetle in Saskatchewan: There still aren't many

There's some promising news on the mountain pine beetle's presence — or lack thereof — in Saskatchewan.

The insect has destroyed millions of hectares of lodgepole pine in British Columbia and Alberta, and there were worries that it could move further north, where there are a lot of jack pines.

Rory McIntosh, Saskatchewan's forest entomologist and pathologist, says they have found no trace of the dangerous bug in the northwest part of the province for the second straight year.


Mayor concerned pine beetle could increase wildfire risk

Jasper’s mayor is concerned the mountain pine beetle, which is spreading eastward through the park, could increase the community’s wildfire risk.

Mayor Richard Ireland raised his concern during a meeting with Parks Canada on Oct. 16. The mayors of Hinton and Yellowhead County, as well as representatives from the forestry industry, also attended the meeting.

“As the forest turns increasingly red and dead west of us, our primarily concern locally is the safety of the community from wildfire,” said Ireland, who took an aerial tour of the park last week to see the beetle’s impact first hand.


Yellowhead candidates clash over pine beetle

Yellowhead candidates in the upcoming federal election agree on the severity of the mountain pine beetle infestation in Jasper National Park, but representatives from two of the major parties have varying opinions on why more hasn’t been done to this point.

Liberal Party candidate Ryan Maguhn took aim at the Conservative Party during a Sept. 28 all-candidates debate in Hinton, saying that a systemic attack on the freedom of researchers and continued funding cuts to Parks Canada have left JNP less able to deal with the pine beetle.

“We see those same scientists that remain working for Parks Canada threatened, suppressed. They just sent an open letter from multiple former members of the Parks service complaining about the treatment they have and the intellectual freedom because ultimately what we’ve seen is what this government wants to hear is more important to them than what they need to hear,” said Maguhn, adding that the Liberal Party is committed to restoring Parks’ funding and providing additional money for research.


Drought-stressed trees in Alberta could see more mountain pine beetles

As Alberta conducts annual aerial surveys of its forests, the province’s forest expert says she expects they’ll start to see the signs of drought — including more mountain pine beetles.

This year’s surveys, which started on Aug. 15 and run until Sept. 15, come after extremely dry weather hit the province throughout the summer.

“Drought has a variety of effects on the forests and obviously on the insect population,” said Erica Samis, manager of forest health and adaptation with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “When a tree is drought stressed, it can’t withstand attacks.