ST. CLOUD -- The Department of Natural Resources is educating you on the dangers of oak wilt.

The invasive tree disease has been in Minnesota since the 1940s and is deadly to red and bur oaks.

Brian Schwingle is the Forest Health Specialist with the DNR. He says there are a few ways the disease spreads.

It moves long distance on infected wood that people move around. It moves naturally in two additional ways, particularly in the spring time from sap beetles carrying spores or tree to tree from connected roots.

Schwingle says now is a good time to prune your oak trees as winter brings the lowest risk of spreading the disease.

He adds early detection and management care is critical to preventing oak wilt's progression into uninfected forests.

We do early detection every year for Morrison County and Pine County. The DNR also collaborates with property owners and local soil and water districts in the area on projects to control oak wilt with the ultimate goal of slowing or stopping its northward direction.

An early sign of oak wilt is seeing lots of leaves on the ground during the growing season.

High-risk zones for oak wilt are in east-central and southeastern Minnesota, or where oaks are heavily present.

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