Ravenous Beetles Decimate West's Pines

Harsh winter sole hope for containing insect that has affected millions of acres—and is moving east
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 18, 2008 1:48 PM CST
Ravenous Beetles Decimate West's Pines
A Mountain Pine beetle or bark beetle is seen here during the examination of trees in Colorado.   (AP Photo)

Peanut-sized bark beetles have drilled into and killed millions of acres of green pines from New Mexico to British Columbia, threatening the Rockies’ iconic lodgepoles with extinction, reports the New York Times. With only costly and temporary fixes available, preservationists are hoping for an atypically frigid winter to contain the pests, which are moving steadily eastward.

Landowners are scrambling to cut the pines—weakened by decades of drought—before the beetles get to them, hoping that a reduced population will give those remaining more water and a chance to build resistance. Aside from the environmental impact, mountain-dwellers fear wildfires, mudslides, falling trees, and a threat to their tourism industry as the pines disappear. (More pine trees stories.)

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