2 invasive species threaten northern Wis. forests

Published: Nov. 2, 2017 at 9:18 PM CDT
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Citizens of Langlade County are learning about two different kinds of invasive species that have been present for awhile. But now, buckthorn and garlic mustard could cause problems in woods in the northern part of the state.

"They're invasive species that were brought over here as food source; one for wildlife, one for human consumption with garlic mustard, but they've since taken off and spread through both farmland and woodland," said Dennis Fincher, a forestry technician with Kretz Lumber.

Both garlic mustard and buckthorn threaten northern Wisconsin forests.

"What they're doing is they're choking out the native species, and they can no longer survive, they can't compete with them. If you look at the plant behind us, it's still green. Everything else is done, shut down. Invasive species continue to grow after native species stops," said Fincher.

Unlike the Emerald Ash Borer, which only affects ash trees, garlic mustard and buckthorn are two invasive species that affect all threes. This means they could potentially destroy the forests in Wisconsin.

"This effects everything. That's why I said you know this could be the worst case since the Peshtigo fire in that we could lose a lot of our forest due to this," said Fincher.

In Langlade County, motorized access to certain roads is limited to try and prevent the species' spread.

"Garlic mustard spreads really quick and a good mode of that transportation is motor vehicles," said Erik Rantala, Forest Administrator with Langlade County.

If the two species spread, there will be less forest growth in the state.

"I can tell you that in my years working in the woods that I've seen it spread very, very rapidly. And it is to the point that we are losing woods and jobs," said Fincher.

"Logging is a big part of the economy in northern Wisconsin, and we need to manage our resources to make sure they're healthy and vigorous and provide a stable supply of wood," said Rantala.

By spreading awareness, foresters hope to fight the invasion.