Hunters Reminded of Firewood Hazard

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State conservation officials today reminded hunters preparing to travel this season of the potential threats to forest health that can be transported in firewood.

Leading the state’s list of concerns is the Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive species that has killed millions of ash trees throughout Southeast Michigan. State officials also have discovered pockets of EAB infestation in communities throughout the Lower Peninsula. In each case, the infestation was tied to firewood or nursery stock transport from the state’s quarantine counties.

Hunters should observe the ban on transporting firewood from quarantine areas.

“Michigan is home to nearly 700 million ash trees, and this invasive insect has the proven ability to jeopardize the entire resource,” said DNR Director K.L. Cool. “Containing Emerald Ash Borer requires the help of every Michigan hunter, angler, camper and outdoor enthusiast. If you accidentally allow this insect to hitchhike out of the quarantine zone by bringing firewood to your camp, you have potentially exposed your favorite recreation site to a serious threat.”

Emerald Ash Borers lay their eggs in the bark of ash trees. When larvae hatch, they feed throughout the fall and winter on the tree’s vascular layer, just beneath the bark. This destroys the tree’s ability to distribute water to its branches. The larvae develop through winter and emerge the following spring as adult borers, leaving D-shaped exit holes in the bark and flying off to repeat the cycle.

Because of the insect’s extended development cycle, visible damage to trees is often a sign of a long-standing infestation.

“Even firewood that looks normal has been found to harbor EAB larvae,” Cool said. “The best way to avoid jeopardizing the health of our forests is simple: use only local firewood.”

Travelers who accidentally transport ash firewood are instructed to burn all firewood before returning home. State officials encourage anyone with questions to visit the state’s EAB web site or report concerns or accidental firewood transport by calling the EAB hotline at 1-866-325-0023.