Tom Daniels, Public Relations of Sundre Forest Products [SFP] sent me this message today.
As a reminder we have been putting one Mountain Pine Beetle bait site in every township within our Forest Management Area [FMA] since 2007. Baits are hung on three pine trees in a triangle formation. The intent is that if there is an overflight of beetle that we will be able to detect beetles as they might get attracted to the pheromone in the baits. This would then help SFP to assess whether we did get an inflight and hopefully the extent of the flight so that SFP can develop an action plan. The baits are deployed in June and about 50% of the sites are visited ½ way through the summer (August) and then the baits are pulled down usually later in September or early October.
Earlier in August Keith Branter of SFP visited our bait sites north of hwy 11 since that is the most likely place we might see beetle due to proximity to Hinton and Jasper which are both in full infestation mode. Well I hate to say that SFP fears were founded. It would appear that the FMA was hit with a flight of beetles. As I have said to some folks we are raising the red flag but not sounding the siren just yet as it is early to determine how severe the flight was. The bait trees were mass attacked, but there was little evidence of beetle in non-bait trees which is a bit curious.
This info is preliminary prior to starting to do a more detailed investigation. With that said there are reports along the hwy 16 corridor of an other inflight or possibly the same inflight, but over a very large area. Any way you slice it this is not good news.
In the meantime I would request that everyone remain vigilant in looking for evidence of beetle and to report any location of pitch tubes, red trees or other. Those can be reported to Tom Daniels of SFP at 403-638-6211. or to Pam Melnick who is the Forest Health Officer for Alberta Agriculture and Forestry based out of Rocky.