Douglas fir beetles infesting Canim Lake areas

Douglas fir beetles infesting Canim Lake areas
Residents with concerns offered options for dealing with bark beetles

Cariboo Regional District Area H Director Margo Wagner urges residents near Canim Lake to help prevent the spread of Douglas-fir beetles in the area’s old-growth forests.

In her Oct. 17 e-mail, Wagner noted area residents may have noticed areas along South Canim Lake Road, Canim-Hendrix Lake Road (towards Hendrix Lake) and Mahood Lake that are showing signs of Douglas-fir beetle damage.

Forestry is well aware of the problem, and is currently working with the various licensees of those areas to address the problem,” Wagner wrote.

There are also preventative measures that landowners can take at no cost to them, she added.

I know how many people value the old growth [Douglas-fir] they have on their property, mine included.”

The Area L Director said she was alerted to the problem when she saw many dying old-growth trees surrounding her own property, and also on a provincial map she obtained.

Wagner also had some correspondence with the Canim Lake Band (CLB) forestry department, and said they are now working together on setting up a meeting with some of the South Canim Lake area residents.

She noted a meeting will likely be held once a date and time is set, and invitations will be sent to those most affected within the CLB forest licence area.

There are various options for ways to deal with these beetles, which are naturally occurring in area forests, she explained.

Should we leave it alone [and] let it run its course? Should we we run a fir-bait program? The challenge in this area is that it’s so steep.”

While Wagner had initially called it a “major fir beetle invasion” in her e-mails, Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations public affairs officer Greig Bethel responded the ministry disagrees with that description of the severity of the infestation.

It’s true the ministry is monitoring and working to control fir beetle infestations along South Canim Lake Road, Canim Hendrix Lake Road and the Mahood Lake area. It’s the kind of periodic outbreak that occurs in various parts of[British Columbia] and it is not expected to have a significant impact on timber supply.”

People with large, Douglas-fir trees on their property can treat them individually with MCH – an anti-aggregation pheromone (not a pesticide), he explained.

Douglas-fir beetles mass attack trees in order to overcome the tree’s defences. When the bark beetles have fully infested the tree, the beetle produces an anti-aggregation pheromone (which MCH mimics) that indicates to other beetles that the tree is full.”

Bethel noted the supply of MCH at Forestry Office in 100 Mile House was providing free to members of the public concerned about beetle infested Douglas fir on their property (mentioned in Wagner’s e-mail) has now been used up for the season.

While the office will not be able to supply MCH until further notice … [it] can be purchased from vendors online and there is plenty of time for the public to purchase it, since it is best applied in the spring – not now.”

While property owners are planning what may need to be treated next spring, he noted there are other preventive options.

Bethel said one way folks can help over the winter is by not bringing beetle infested Douglas-fir firewood home unless the bark has been stripped, as the beetles live between the bark and the tree trunk.

Meanwhile, Wagner said her hope is to avoid extensive beetle losses at Canim Lake – potentially, through a combination of preventive action by private landowners and selective logging to remove infested trees in collaboration with the CLB and the provincial government’s forestry management programs.

However, due to concerns about treating live trees with pheromones repelling insects to another area, it is also important for everyone in the community to do what they can to prevent a wider spread of these destructive beetles, she added.

More information is available in pamphlets at Service BC centres, or by downloading the Douglas-fir beetle fact sheet at