The mountain pine beetle infestation in Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is worse than originally thought, the Saskatchewan government says.

The province's Environment Department said Monday it has found a higher-than-expected number of trees in the park, that are infested with the voracious pest.

In recent years, the beetles have destroyed millions of hectares of pine forests in B.C. and have been sweeping eastward.

After budgeting $200,000, the province did surveys in two areas last year to determine how serious the problem is here.

Finding the beetles

In the northwest part of the province, the Sept. 19 survey did not detect any beetles.


Mountain pine beetles, shown in a photo from an electron microscope, have infested forest land in central British Columbia and have been spreading eastward. (Leslie Manning/Natural Resources Canada)

However, in the Cypress Hills area in the southwest — where it was already known that the beetles were present — surveyors found more than they were expecting.

The province didn't provide any details about the extent of the infestation.

As a result of the new information, the province says it will spend an extra $100,000 on additional work between now and March 31.

Great Western Forestry Ltd., the company that had the survey contract, will have its contract extended to verify all infested trees and to mark them for removal.

Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park straddles the Alberta-Saskatchewan border,