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STOP #7

Cody, WY — Plagues of Insects Batter Western Forests

June 29, 2005

In the forests between Cody, Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park, rampaging hordes of bark beetles are on the attack, wiping out huge crops of centuries-old spruce forests.

Bark beetles keep forests healthy by attacking and killing sick or fire-damaged trees. Recently, higher temperatures (helped along by global warming) have brought long droughts and warm winters that have caused beetle populations to explode.

Even if these trees survive the beetles attack, they are left dry and vulnerable to summer wildfires, that, as a result, grow ever larger and more damaging each year. It could take centuries for the spruce forests in Wyoming to recover. In nearby Yellowstone, pine trees are falling victim to the insect invaders.

The problem isn't just in Wyoming. From Arizona to Alaska, western forests are under siege. In British Columbia, the beetles have infested 22 million acres of pine forests —enough timber to supply US demand for 2 full years!

These enormous beetle infestations were caused by long term temperature increases of ONLY 2 to 3 degrees. With even larger temperature increases on the way, the bark beetle is set to wreck havoc for decades to come.