DNR warns of oak wilt disease, recommends not cutting down oak trees

Local News

(WFRV) – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) sent out a statement recommending not pruning or cutting oak trees from April through July.

According to the DNR, April brings a high risk for the often fatal oak wilt disease across Wisconsin. The DNR also says that oak wilt is widespread in southern Wisconsin, but is still a new and uncommon disease in much of northern Wisconsin.

As of January 31, the DNR has received reports of oak wilt in all Wisconsin counties except Ashland, Iron, Forest, Taylor, Door, Kewaunee, Calumet and Manitowoc counties. The DNR says several of these counties contain the highest abundance of healthy and productive oak forests in the state.

Oak wilt spreads over land, by sap-feeding beetles that carry the fungal spores from infected oaks to fresh wounds on healthy oaks; and, underground, from infected oaks to nearby healthy oaks through grafted, or interconnected, root systems, according to the DNR.

“Sap-feeding beetles, like most insects, have an incredible sense of smell, which draws them to open wound surfaces to feed on sugary sap in as little as 15 minutes after a tree is wounded,” says Paul Cigan, DNR Forest Health Specialist.

According to the DNR red, black and pin oaks are highly susceptible to oak wilt. Once infected, they can die within a few weeks. White and bur oaks are much less susceptible. If infected, they can take months or years to die, or they may even recover.

For more information, visit the DNR’s oak wilt webpage.

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