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Tree-killing pest found near Sleeping Bear Dunes

"Sleeping Bear Dunes" by Trent Strohm is licensed with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

A tree-killing pest has made its way into the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and its spread has state natural resources officials concerned.

Robert Miller is an invasive species specialist with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. He says hemlocks help protect the dunes from erosion, serve as homes and shelter for wildlife and they help keep trout streams cool and clear.

He says the hemlock wooly adelgid was already present in west Michigan lakeshore counties, probably hitchhiked with campers into the dunes area, and they pose a threat.

“After a number of years of feeding on the hemlock tree, the hemlock wooly adelgid will kill the hemlock,” said Miller.

Miller says, left unchecked, the pests are a menace to 170 million hemlocks across the state -- growing everywhere from wild forests to suburban landscapes.


Rick Pluta is the Capitol Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He is heard daily on WCMU's Morning Edition and All Things Considered.