A Minnesota Department of Natural Resources agent deep undercover as an elm tree is beginning to wonder where his allegiances really lie. “When I started this, I said goodbye to my wife and kids, burned off my fingerprints, and glued a bunch of leaves to my naked body,” said Ken Wright, a DNR agent who has slowly gained the trust of fungi by living as an elm tree in St Cloud for the last three years. “But the thought that I could end Dutch Elm Disease once and for all made it all worth it.” he added.
Wright now wonders, however, who the good guys really are. “When you spend month after month with these fungi and bark beetles, you realize they’re just trying to live their lives and you start to question your past life, your values, and convictions”. Years of proving himself to the local fungi community by standing very still, pretending to photosynthesize, and saying “I’m an elm tree” over and over again have taken its toll. “How much more can I take?” asked Wright, waving his arms around wildly in the wind, “sometimes I forget what my wife looks like.”