Forest-killing bark beetles also might help ecosystem, experts say

DENVER, Sept. 5 (UPI) — Tiny bark beetles the size of a black bean have killed entire mountainsides of pine trees in the western U.S, but ecologists and forest managers disagree about whether they are a pest or a boon to wildlife ecosystems. Whether trees killed by the beetles spread wildfires quickly has been called into question by new studies.

Millions of gray, denuded trunks, called snags, cover the mountainsides of Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah. The beetles have killed off more than 40 million acres of Canadian pines in Alberta and British Columbia, Canada.