Mountain Pine Beetle Devastation May be Slowing

DENVER, Jan. 17 (UPI) — The mountain pine beetles that have been devastating forests in the western United States may have eaten their way through their food supply, scientists say.

That means Lodgepole Pine forests in Colorado and Wyoming have a chance to make a comeback, The Denver Post reported.

“I think we’ve seen the worst of it,” Sky Stephens, an entomologist with the Colorado State Forest Service, said.

Pine beetles are native to western North America. But the current outbreak, now about 15 years old, is far larger than previous ones, with some scientists blaming rising temperatures because of global warming.

Cal Wettstein, a beetle specialist with the U.S. Forest Service, said the millions of dead trees left by the beetles are a major problem.

“We’re still left with the aftermath,” Wettstein said. “We’ve got wildfire threats. The most immediate hazard right now is falling trees. We’ll have falling tree hazards for at least 10 years.”

Copyright 2010 by United Press International

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