Spruce Budworm threatens Maine deer yards and more

Spruce Budworm threatens Maine deer yards and more

spruce budwormWhile Maine has not achieved its goals for protecting deer yards, that might not matter if and when the spruce budworm gets here. The budworm could destroy the state’s deer yards on both private and public lands.

Doug Denico, Director of the Maine Forest Service, told a gathering of forest industry people recently, “If you look at the map that was put up there about Maine, you’ll see that we’ve got budworm all over Maine – moths I mean – and it’s coming back in the same places it came back in the 1950s.”

The good news is that private landowners and state agencies are working together to address this approaching problem. The latest newsletter of the Maine Forest Products Council provides an update and interesting information on this critical issue, including a bunch of reports and research. You can read it here.

The real questions are these: will private landowners spray to save the trees and/or kill the budworms? How much of the forest will be sprayed and protected? Will the state spray on our public lands and parks? And when and where should they spray? Will deer yards be a focus for protection? And how will they be protected? What will happen if deer yards are not protected?

I think you can guess the answer to the last question.

Two spraying approaches are available. The use of BT preserves foliage and keeps the trees alive. More potent chemicals kill the bugs. I’m told that BT has been used extensively to combat budworm in Quebec, and has not been effective there.

Wildlife biologists from Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife are working with the Maine Forest Service, University of Maine, and Maine Forest Products Council to address the problem and, hopefully, come to agreement on a plan to combat the approaching budworm epidemic. A series of informative reports are now in the works, to be completed by the end of this month.

It is clear to me that something will need to be done. But I’m not at all certain at this point that either private landowners or public land managers will aggressively fight the budworm epidemic.

One problem I’m anticipating is that spraying will be prohibited along the edges of water bodies, and that’s where many of our deer yards are.

When those reports are received at the end of this month, I’ll update you on this alarming problem.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. George also hosts, with Harry Vanderweide, a TV talk show called Wildfire, now in its 13th year and focused on hunting, fishing, environmental, and conservation issues. The show is owned and produced by Maine Audubon and seen on its website as well as on the Time Warner cable TV station throughout the state.