A case of Dutch Elm Disease in the city’s Queen Elizabeth neighbourhood appears to be an isolated case after nine trees in the vicinity tested negative for the wilting disease.
“We’re pretty lucky,” said Michelle Chartier, the city’s superintendent of forestry and pest management. “That was kind of a relief to have no more positive tests come back.”
The city’s first case of Dutch Elm Disease was identified in the southeast neighbourhood of Queen Elizabeth late last month. The tree was removed and buried in the landfill within 48 hours of testing positive and city staff have spent the last three weeks taking samples of elm trees within one kilometre of the infected specimen. All have come back negative.
Staff have also been going into the backyards of people who live in the vicinity of the infected tree and searching for elm wood, which can contain bark beetles that spread the disease.
Elm wood, which cannot be stored under provincial Dutch Elm Disease regulations, was removed from 12 households.
“We went in and just took it away immediately,” Chartier said. “We left them infraction notices at the door, but we just went and took the wood because it’s a very big concern for us.”
The wood was transported to the landfill and buried.
Chartier said the city continues to test elm trees with wilting or yellow leaves, but she’s cautiously optimistic no more positive results will come back.
“We’re an island here in Saskatoon a little bit, in terms of not having a natural corridor into the city for the disease, so we can keep it at bay, I think, for an awful long time.”
Dutch Elm Disease, which has killed millions of elm trees throughout Canada and the United States, spreads rapidly and often infects mature trees. It has been present in Saskatchewan since the 1980s.