Forests hit hard by oak wilt disease

Capital News Service
LANSING – Unseasonably warm weather this spring sparked the spread of oak wilt disease earlier then expected, environmentalists say. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has asked state and private landowners not to prune or “injure” oak trees between April and July, when they are more susceptible to the disease. It hits mainly red, black and pine oaks, with red oaks usually the most vulnerable. Robert Heyd, the forest pest management program manager at DNR, said the disease spreads when beetles move spores from last year’s diseased trees to fresh wounds in healthy oaks. “Because of the warm weather, the beetles that move oak wilt disease are present everywhere.