Keep an eye out for oak wilt

Invasive oak wilt is progressing northward in Minnesota into Cass and Crow Wing counties.

To prevent the spread and loss of oak trees to this deadly disease, the Department of Natural Resources is urging residents and visitors in these counties to report suspected oak wilt now through mid-August.

“As its name suggests, the telltale sign of oak wilt is when oak trees suddenly lose all their leaves, notably in midsummer,” said Rachael Nicoll, forest health specialist in Brainerd. “The bad news? Oak wilt is deadly if left unchecked. The good news? Oak wilt is easy to prevent.”

Reporting is available through the DNR’s oak wilt reporting website.

Early detection is the best defense against oak wilt because it allows for proper prevention and management techniques.

“Public reporting will be the key to protecting the uninfected forests in Cass and Crow Wing counties,” Nicoll said. Reports will be verified by staff with the DNR and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, upon which submitters will receive an email notification.

Nicoll also cautions summer campers and recreationists not to move firewood. Moving oak firewood can spread oak wilt over long distances.

Fungal pads in the bark of an oak tree

Crack from fungal pads. All photos courtesy of the Minnesota DNR.


Larissa Donovan is the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016. She covers events and issues in north central Minnesota, which include local government, crime, courts, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University and received her degree in 2018. Larissa, native to the great state of New York, grew up in Bemidji, and enjoys spending her spare time with her family and pet cat. She also loves Star Trek, punk rock music and the theater.


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