114,000 new acres of bark beetle kill has been detected in an aerial survey done by the State Forestry Division for 2014. Most of that is in Bridger-Teton and Shoshone National Forests.
Les Koch is the division’s Forest Health Specialist and says while warmer weather didn’t help in deterring the Pine, Spruce, and Douglas-Fir beetles, they have already killed many of their suitable host trees. While 2014 did see an increase in acres affected, over the last few years the overall trend has been downward.
“If you look at the increase though it’s much smaller than when we looked at this in the early 2000’s, even back to the mid 90’s," says Koch. "The number of acres that have actually increased has decreased. So I think that is a good trend. Yes it is increasing, which is not desirable, but at the same time the number of acres that have increased are smaller than when the epidemic was at its strongest.”
Over 4.5 million acres of forest have been affected since the start of the epidemic in 1996.