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Thursday, September 28, 2023
Case of oak wilt found on Niagara College’s NOTL campus
An example of oak wilt on an oak tree. (Invasive Species Centre)
An example of oak wilt on the leaves of an oak tree. (Invasive Species Centre)

Oak wilt, the invasive tree fungus that infects and kills oak trees has been found on Niagara College’s Daniel J. Patterson Campus in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

It is the third known case of oak wilt in Canada, after one was found in Niagara Falls and another in Springwater, Ont., near Barrie.

The town reported the confirmed case in a news release on July 10 but wouldn’t say where it was found, citing privacy concerns.

The municipality only said NOTL’s confirmed case was discovered on a private property near the border of Niagara Falls, town spokesperson Marah Minor said in an email to The Lake Report.

As well, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which is leading the investigation, refused to specify where it was found.

However, Niagara College released a statement on later on Wednesday, July 12, saying the confirmed case was on its campus in NOTL.

Oak wilt is a slow-moving disease that, if able to proliferate, can cause tree death within one season. 

It can be spread through the movement of firewood, root grafting beneath the ground and sap-feeding beetles.

While Coun. Sandra O’Connor said she is unsure of its exact location, she said it was found near to the site of the first confirmed case in Niagara Falls.

Jason Griffin, spokesperson for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, said the organization was “working with property owners in the affected area to conduct surveys of neighbouring oak trees for oak wilt disease.”

O’Connor said she’s glad it’s not close to the Chautauqua area, which is home to numerous oak trees. 

“All of our oak trees are important, but there’s just so many concentrated in that particular area, it would be absolutely devastating,” she said. 

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is encouraging residents to inspect their trees and look for signs of oak wilt, including dull green, brown or yellow leaves, cracks in the trunk, white, grey or black fungus, and early and sudden leaf drop. 

Residents are also being told not to prune oak trees between April and November and are being asked not to move firewood. 

Suspected cases of oak wilt can be reported to the agency online.

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