Commissioners pass motion in opposition to gypsy moth quarantine for Cook and Lake counties

The Cook County commissioners room was during the Tuesday, February 25 county board meeting as about 35 community members gathered to learn more about a proposed Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) quarantine of Cook and Lake counties in the effort to slow the spread of the gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar dispar).

 Lucia Hunt, gypsy moth unit supervisor and Alan Sommerfeld, senior communications officer for the MDA, gave the presentation, which many North Shore residents have heard before, describing the impact of the gypsy moth as a nuisance pest and landscape defoliator. Hunt said that currently, 800,000 acres are deforested nationwide by the pests.

Four loggers and two timber industry representatives and one resort owner spoke after the MDA presentation. Several noted that 800,000 acres were deforested nationwide by the advancement of the gypsy moth. One logger, Victor Bohnen of Grand Marais said that seems relatively small, considering the potential economic hardship to Cook County.

County commissioners seemed sympathetic to the logging industry representatives. Commissioner Bruce Martinson said it seems that the “cat seems to be out of the bag” and there is no stopping the gypsy moths.

Commissioner Garry Gamble said he had talked to some noted entomologists about gypsy moths and had been told that the pests would never ravage Cook and Lake counties, basically because the climate is not suitable for them. Gamble also noted that gypsy moth outbreaks are associated with the presence of oak forests and Cook and Lake county forests consist of 0 percent oak and the Superior National Forest’s 2004 Forest Plan projected that the forest would remain that way for 100 years.

Gamble presented a potential resolution stating the county’s opposition to the proposed quarantine listing numerous other reasons. The board passed the resolution unanimously.

Anyone wishing to comment on the proposed gypsy moth quarantine has until March 12 to do so. Comments may be sent to: to gypsy.moth@state.mn.us or written comments can be mailed to: Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Gypsy Moth Quarantine Comments, 625 Robert St. N., St. Paul, MN 55155.