At last, it seems the effort of containing the mountain alpine beetle has shown some positive results in the Black Hills of South Dakota and the northeastern parts of Wyoming. This is according to a survey released today.
The U.S. Forest Service, South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Wyoming State Forest Division revealed the results of the annual aerial forest health survey for the Black Hills National Forest.
The epidemic is still continuing but at least the pictures taken by the agency using high resolution aerial photos to survey the land has shown some improvements so far.
District Ranger on the Mystic Ranger District Ruth Esperance says, “Now realizing that one year doesn’t make a trend, so we’re kind of keeping an eye, but it’s a hopeful. It gives us hope that the beetles are in decline now after several years at an epidemic level.”
Around 438,000 acres of the Black Hills Forest have been infested by mountain alpine beetle since the outbreak in 1996.
The number of land area infected by the beetle was cut in half from 34,000 acres to about 16,500 acres between 2013 and 2014.
The decline according to Esperance is due to cooperation of local companies, partners and private land owners.
The Mountain pine beetle (MPB) is known also by its scientific name Dendroctunos ponderosae. It’s a very important animal since it kills a lot of trees during outbreaks. This is exactly what’s happening now. The difficulty in controlling this insect is shown by its nine-year infestation involving the Black Hills of South Dakota and the northeastern parts of Wyoming.
They can kill millions of trees irrespective of where they are and how far they are from the original site of infestation.
Together with climate change, the mountain pine Beetle is doing a good job in decimating the tree populations wherever they are.