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Pruning Ban for Elm Trees Takes Effect Thursday, April 1

For immediate release: March 31, 2021 - 1:00pm

The City reminds residents that the provincial ban on pruning elm trees is from Thursday, April 1 to Tuesday, August 31, 2021.

Provincial regulations prohibit pruning of elm trees during this time to ensure elm bark beetles, which transmit Dutch elm disease (DED), are not attracted to freshly pruned elms when the beetles are most active. Anyone wishing to prune elm trees during the ban must obtain a permit and are asked to call the City’s Parks Department at 306-975-3300 for more information.

Provincial regulations also prohibit the storing, transport and use of elm wood. The only permitted movement of elm wood is to the city’s designated disposal site at the City Landfill.

Since 2015, Saskatoon has had two elm trees test positive for DED. The most recent case was discovered in September 2020, and the tree was immediately removed as part of the City’s DED Response Plan. The City will continue to implement the DED Response Plan this Spring with continued surveillance and testing of public and private elm trees in the surrounding area with an intensive search for elm material and other sources of infection.

What is DED?

DED is a serious disease caused by a fungus that clogs the elm tree’s water conducting system, which eventually causes the tree to die; usually within one or two seasons. Early symptoms of the disease typically appear by July when the leaves on one or more branches wilt, curl, turn yellow and die. DED was introduced in North America in the 1930s and has wiped out millions of elms across Canada and the United States.

How is DED spread?
In Saskatchewan, the disease is spread by several species of elm bark beetles. These beetles can fly as far as two kilometres in search for elm trees. The DED fungus has tiny spores that stick to the body of the beetle. Elm bark beetles can carry these spores and infect other elm trees.

What can you do?

The most effective management strategy for DED is to not transport or store elm wood. Infected firewood is the most likely way that DED would be brought into Saskatoon.

Residents can help prevent DED by:

  • Not pruning elms during the provincial pruning ban (April 1 to August 31)
  • Not storing or transporting elm wood – provincial regulations prohibit the storing or transporting of elm wood
  • Always disposing of elm wood at the City Landfill
  • Sanitizing tools after working on elm trees
  • Do not build treehouses in elm trees, as nails, screws and other fastening devices cause damage to elm trees. Similar to freshly pruned branches, the nail and screw holes can attract elm bark beetles carrying the DED fungus.
  • Keeping elm trees healthy and rapidly removing and disposing of dead and dying tree limbs which are a breeding site for beetles

By following the provincial regulations and maintaining trees on your private property, all residents can help prevent the spread of DED in Saskatoon. Anyone suspecting that an elm tree is unhealthy is asked to contact Urban Forestry at 306-975-2890. 

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