DNR urges public to report tree fungus and pests this fall

By: - October 5, 2022 6:15 am
HRD fungus

Infected seedling with HRD fungus fruit body at base. (DNR photo)

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is asking for the public to check needle-bearing trees for signs of harmful disease and to report those findings to the DNR. Particularly on the department’s radar is heterobasidion root disease (HRD), a severe fungal infection that targets pines, spruces and other conifers in Wisconsin.

HRD is a rotting fungus which decays the wood of the roots, causing trees to develop stringy yellow rot that causes stems to break off. HRD can spread through connected conifer roots. It often shows up in  clumps of trees that seem to die off one at a time. The fungus itself is most visible on seedlings, saplings, and tree stumps. The DNR maintains an online map with known locations of HRD outbreaks. Any suspected cases can be reported to local forest health specialists here.

Controlling outbreaks is possible, though difficult, according to the DNR. Spores from the fungus are spread in the air when trees are cut, for example. Fungicides to treat infection are mixed in water, which makes  winter application difficult due to freezing.

Forest goers are also encouraged to look out for invasive or parasitic insect infestations of trees as the fall transitions into winter.


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Isiah Holmes
Isiah Holmes

Isiah Holmes is a journalist and videographer, and a lifelong resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Holmes' video work dates back to his high school days at Wauwatosa East High, when he made a documentary about the local police department. Since then, his writing has been featured in Urban Milwaukee, Isthmus, Milwaukee Stories, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Services, Pontiac Tribune, the Progressive Magazine, Al Jazeera, and other outlets. He was also featured in the 2018 documentary The Chase Key, and was the recipient of the Sierra Club Great Waters Group 2021 Environmental Hero of the Year award. The Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council also awarded Holmes its 2021-2022 Media Openness Award for using the open records laws for investigative journalism. Holmes was also a finalist in the 2021 Milwaukee Press Club Excellence in Journalism Awards alongside the rest of the Wisconsin Examiner's staff. The Silver, or second place, award for Best Online Coverage of News was awarded to Holmes and his colleague Henry Redman for an investigative series into how police responded to the civil unrest and protests in Kenosha during 2020. Holmes was also awarded the Press Club's Silver (second-place) award for Public Service Journalism for articles focusing on police surveillance in Wisconsin.