MADISON – If you’re heading north to a wood-heated cabin for deer hunting this year, do yourself and the North Woods a favor – leave your firewood at home. Instead, buy it near the cabin, or pick up some certified firewood along the way.
It’s sometimes illegal and always a bad idea to haul firewood around the state, unless it’s certified by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Firewood can carry pests and diseases that can destroy trees. That includes gypsy moth egg masses, emerald ash borer larvae, the fungus that causes oak wilt, and pests and diseases we’re not even aware of yet.
"Gypsy moth and emerald ash borer are two of the most destructive pests in North America," says Brian Kuhn, director of the Plant Industry Bureau in the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. "Together or separately, they could destroy the forests that deer rely on. Gypsy moths attack a wide range of tree species, so they pose a broad threat. Emerald ash borers attack only ash in Wisconsin, but ash provides wildlife habitat and other environmental benefits and is one of our highest-value woods. Our ash resource accounts for many of our timber exports, employs many of our citizens, and is culturally important to Native American tribes."
Hardwood firewood cannot be carried legally from counties quarantined for gypsy moth to non-quarantined areas. Fifty counties in Wisconsin are quarantined for gypsy moth. A map showing the quarantined counties is available online at gypsymoth.wi.gov.
Even though all of Wisconsin is under quarantine for emerald ash borer, we have not detected the insect in the majority of the state’s forests. Moving firewood to these areas could accelerate the spread of emerald ash borer to uninfested areas.
The Department of Natural Resources prohibits bringing firewood onto state lands from more than 10 miles away, and the U.S. Forest Service prohibits bringing firewood into the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest from more than 25 miles away.
The only exception to these prohibitions is for firewood that has been certified by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection as having been treated to destroy pests. Certified firewood is clearly labeled. A list of certified firewood dealers is available online at https://datcp.wi.gov/Documents/CertifiedFirewoodDealers.pdf. Certified firewood is also often available at convenience stores and other places selling firewood.
- Buy firewood with the DATCP-certified label, or
- Gather or buy your firewood at your destination.
- Use all the firewood you obtain and don’t take any home with you, unless it is certified.