Over the next several months, residents will not be allowed to prune their elm trees.

The annual ban is in place to help reduce the spread of Dutch elm disease (DED), which is caused by a fungus that spreads through elm bark beetles.

Forest specialist with the Ministry of Environment, Josh Pol, explained that these beetles are attracted to fresh cuts on elm trees, and are more active in warmer weather.

"They depend on their sense of smell to find elmwood, and by pruning your Elm trees, this releases the chemical compounds that makes the trees easier for the beetles to find," he said. 

Signs of DED can be noticed during June and July and include the leaves of one or more branches near the top of the tree wilting, curling and turning yellow then brown. An infected twig sample will have red streaks through the sapwood.  

Anyone who notices signs of infection are advised to take a sample and submit it to the Provincial Crop Protection Laboratory for testing or report it to their local municipality.

Elm bark beetles are also attracted to and breed in dead and dying elm wood. Late winter is the ideal time to prune dead and dying branches, helping keep the trees healthy and vigorous and removing the elm bark beetles breeding habitat.

The trees can be completely removed at any time of year, including during the ban period, but it's critical to dispose of all elm wood promptly and properly, including finding a designated disposal site. 

Swift Current had one case of DED in 2021, which was the city's first infection. There has not been any recorded infection in Swift Current since then.