Government to Strengthen Efforts to Battle with Alberta’s Pine Beetle Infestation

Due to lack of extended cold temperatures this winter, Alberta's government will have to strengthen its efforts to battle with the mountain pine beetle population in Alberta's forests. This year's winter has not been strong enough to curb the population of the pest's population.

Alberta Environment Minister Robin Campbell said on Wednesday that mixed results have been sought by the 2014 field surveys. It is clear from the counts that aggressive treatment, rehabilitation and preventive action are the best measures to cope with beetle infestations across Alberta becaue beetles have gained enough strength to survive the winter.

"On one hand, we're seeing no significant beetle populations in the eastern half of the province. Populations are scattered on the eastern edge of the infestation, and fewer of them have survived the winter", said Campbell.

However, the population of the pest has remained steady in the heart of Alberta's pine forest belt. South of Grande Prairie, northwest of Edson and west of Manning are some of the small areas where beetle population is higher than other ones.

A field research is conducted every year by the Alberta government to see how well the population of the mountain pine beetle survived the previous winter. The study provides significant help in determining the extent up to which the beetles are likely to emerge in the summer and in which areas the pests will appear.

This year the government will target the areas that have the highest population of the beetle. Campbell said the focus would be in west-central Alberta. The move is intended to contain the infestation, reduce the rate at which the pest spreads. Also, the government will make efforts to rehabilitate infested forests. The provincial government will cooperate with the federal government to ensure protection of national parks from pine beetle infestation.

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