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path.  Well, the conditions are just right!  It is a native bug and infestation has been going on for thousands of years. Some argue it is a natural cycle having not uncommon effects parallel to large scale forest fires.  The debate really is focused on “can we salvage any use of the trees? Can we stave off large scale fires?  Can we protect users of the forest from falling trees?  And how will it re-direct or effect wildlife species since we really do not know,  as this level of beetle kill has not happened in over 100 years and there is not much data to review?”

     The Washakie,  Absaroka, and Fitzpatrick Wilderness’s  have seen a significant infestation in the last couple of years. Some friends and I were recently on a Fall archery elk hunting trip and observed about a 40% rate of dying and dead trees in large clusters.  The elk population is thriving in these parts. While I have no doubt the eventual new undergrowth will provide ample nutrient-rich forage for large ungulates like elk, deer, moose, and sheep to thrive, there may be a

Text Box: Pine Bark Beetle….It’s here!

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Inside this issue:

         Issue 19

Fall 2010

Llameros Newsletter

Lander Llama Company

2024 Mortimore Lane

Lander, WY 82520-9771

Washakie Wilderness 1988Washakie Wilderness 2009

Washakie Wilderness 1988

Washakie Wilderness 2009

If you look close you will see some rust colored dying pine trees in the 2009 photo.

     Most people tend to gasp at their first viewing of the rust colored mountain landscape and proclaim “life will not be the same” with all those dying trees.  Yes, pine bark beetle infestation is epidemic in the western Rocky Mountains and it will take out much of our mature lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) and other pine species.  With a little luck it will leave some species like the fir and spruce alone, and of course the aspen will thrive in some parts. There are some concerns about a shift in wildlife species adaptability, but life does go on and it is natural.  A new generation of lodgepole pine will evolve, and in the interim, it will give us a changing landscape with its own beauty for the next few decades.

     In simple terms,  the pine bark beetle is a tiny little bug (about the size of a rice grain) that is perfectly designed to ferociously eat and reproduce in pine trees when the conditions are just right, sucking the life out of any lodgepole pine in its

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