by Jason Ogden

TAWAS CITY – The Iosco County Board of Commissioners Committee of the Whole voted unanimously to move a resolution, seeking a study on gypsy moths in the northwestern section of the county, to the full board.

The resolution must be approved by the full board during an upcoming meeting. The committee of the whole action took place during an Aug. 7 meeting. 

Under the resolution Aquatic Consulting Services of Sanford will conduct a study at a cost of $8,567 to determine if spraying for the caterpillars and moths will be needed in the future, according to county Administrator/Treasurer Elite Shellenbarger.

The study was prompted by Commissioner Charles Finley, who has been contacted by many residents in the Plainfield Township area who have complained of an infestation of gypsy moths. According to Neal Swanson of Aquatic Consulting Services, there is a history of problems with gypsy moths in that area. He said Finley contacted him in regards to the Long Lake and Chain Lakes areas in Plainfield Township.

“From our historical records of problem areas in Iosco County, I also included the Londo Lakes area, and residential areas around Hale,” wrote Swanson in his estimate. 

“Given the inconsistent population trends of gypsy moths, I assume that some commissioners are familiar with the gypsy moth treatment process, while some of you may not be. The general process consists of an egg mass survey of the affected area in the fall, analysis of the results, generations of GPS files for recommended treatment areas (usually a very small percentage of the area surveyed) and aerial treatment in the spring of the following year,” he continued.

Elite Shellenbarger said he’s talked with Jose Lake resident Charlie Parker about the moths and said he was concerned with what he was hearing.

“I was concerned about what they are seeing,” Shellenbarger said. “We are talking about a certain stage of what gypsy moth life, and he said they are dying by the thousands.”

Shellenbarger said the caterpillars are beginning to cocoon up, then dying. He believes that a viral treatment conducted on the moths several years ago is still working.

“It tells me that the virus is still active in the fungus that was planted,” Shellenbarger told commissioners. “They are dying before they are cocooned up, it tells me that there had to be some laid the year before or we wouldn’t have the situation we have now. So I think it would be prudent to see what the egg mass is.”

Shellenbarger said he recommended that the county pay for the survey to get results and then make a further decision on whether to spray for moths.

Commissioner John Moehring asked whether the spraying could still be done this year; Shellenbarger replied that it would have to be done at a later date.

“I would like to know what the egg mass count is, you would have to have a count of the egg mass in a specific square mile and you have to have a certain amount to qualify to get a state grant, we need to know that before we jump into it,” he said.

Shellenbarger said as it stands now the county has around $30,000 budgeted for gypsy moth eradication and it has the current funding to do the survey. After discussion the board approved the resolution to move to the full board for approval.

Other business discussed during the committee of the whole included a grant application for the Iosco County Sheriff’s Office secondary road patrol, something that has been done in the county for a decade, according to Undersheriff Ralph Boudreau.

Boudreau explained that the grant is used to pay for a road patrol officer who would primarily patrol the county’s secondary roadways.

“Back when the secondary road patrol was implanted (the 1970s) the numbers were based on the current standing, we had 17 full time deputies, the primary was 10.5 of those were for road patrol, since that time the number has been reduced quite a bit,” Boudreau said.

He told commissioners that during the last grant cycle the county received $44,000, as well as an additional $15,000, that was used for wages, automotive expenses and equipment. He said this year’s grant will be $53,000 and asked commissioners to fully approve the grant for the full board.

Sheriff Allan MacGregor, after responding to a board question about the patrols, said he was in favor of having them and the grant.

“It’s been a blessing to us,” he said. “It allows us to put people on the road that we didn’t have before with the grant and have them focus on the secondary roads, which don’t get the attention they need. They often pick up things that would have normally been missed.”