Hunters urged to avoid ash trees when placing deer stands

Published: Nov. 9, 2021 at 3:22 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 9, 2021 at 6:27 PM CST
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SUAMICO, Wis. (WBAY) - A word of caution for hunters hanging tree stands ahead of the upcoming gun deer season.

The DNR is advising hunters to avoid placing deer stands in or around ash trees.

At the Sensiba Wildlife Area in Suamico, DNR Forest Health Specialist Bill McNee points out a number of ash trees slowly dying.

“That tree has probably been infested with emerald ash borer for 4-5 years, so it has been drying underneath the bark for 4-5 years which means especially the branches are probably dryer than down below, but the whole thing is basically dry and risky, that’s not a place to put your deer stand,” says McNee.

Native to eastern Asia, emerald ash borer first appeared in Northeast Wisconsin in 2009.

The insects larvae feed underneath the bark of ash trees, disrupting the transport of water and nutrients, eventually killing the tree.

“The insect will lay 40 to 200 eggs per beetle, so we have an insect that can increase its numbers very rapidly, they fly, they spread quickly and the trees can change very dramatically within a year or two,” explains McNee.

With most trees, aside from oaks, having now lost their leaves, McNee says identifying an ash tree can be tricky, but there are signs from nature.

“The woodpecker damage on an ash tree is a good sign that that tree is heavily infested and should be avoided by hunters, don’t put a stand in that tree or around it,” says McNee.

Wherever emerald ash borer infestation is present, McNee says 99-percent of ash trees will likely die, creating a potentially deadly hazard in the woods.

“There have bee a number of fatalities around the country from these ash trees falling on people, falling on cars as people were driving by, or by these trees dropping branches or falling on people who were trying to cut the tree down, they behave differently, they are much more dangerous and should be cut by a professional,” says McNee.

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