The cold spell that hit the Edson-Hinton region for two weeks in February was thought to have dealt a fatal blow to mountain pine beetle populations but the director of communications for the Alberta Forest Products Association has taken a wait and see attitude.
Pundits have forecast that the cold spell might have produced a 90 per cent mortality rate among beetle populations but Brock Mulligan is waiting until overwintering surveys are done in the spring.
“I think there’s definitely some optimism that the cold spell might have made mortality higher than it ordinarily would be,” said Mulligan.
The overwintering surveys would be done in the May or June timeframe and would be done by air and on the ground.
Mountain pine beetles generate their own anti-freeze, so it takes temperatures of -30 Celsius for two or more weeks before any substantial die-off occurs.
But even if there is a high mortality rate, this is no reason to let up on the fight against the beetle, Mulligan said.
“Cold or not, there’s no reason to let up on the fight against the pine beetles.”