2013-01-21

Mountain pine beetles threaten endangered whitebark pines

Mountain pine beetles have hammered more than B.C.’s lodgepole pine forests — they’ve taken endangered whitebark pine trees, robbing Interior grizzly bears and other species of an important food supply.

Slow-growing whitebark pine trees are rarer than lodgepole pine, grow at higher elevations, and produce cones with large seeds that form a food source for Clark’s nutcracker (which disperses them across the landscape), red squirrels, chipmunks, and pre-denning black bears and grizzlies. The latter species are of special concern in Canada.

Native people have also long eaten the seeds raw or roasted.