Gypsy moth quarantine to be imposed locally

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is about to impose Minnesota’s first quarantine for gypsy moths because of an infestation in Lake and Cook counties.

The quarantine will require inspections of logs for the timber industry, nursery stock, firewood — even camping equipment and patio items — anything that could become infested with gypsy moth larvae and be moved to uninfested areas of the state.

The Duluth News Tribune reports loggers, mills and nurseries will have to sign compliance agreements and pledge to conduct their own inspections before moving any wood out of the quarantined area. The state also will have inspectors in the area randomly checking to see if people are following the rules, and penalties up to $7,500 can be assessed if they are not.

Residents and tourists will be asked to thoroughly check their vehicles and any camping gear before leaving the quarantine area.

The proposed quarantine includes all of Lake and Cook counties and occurs after the state agency trapped more than 71,000 gypsy moths last summer along and near the North Shore, 90 percent of which were in those two counties.

That number was, by far, a record. It shows that the moths, which can defoliate large swaths of forest in their caterpillar stage, have become entrenched in Minnesota’s Arrowhead.