More than 100,000 beetle infested trees fall daily nationwide - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

More than 100,000 beetle infested trees fall daily nationwide

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The mountain pine beetle is native to Montana. It usually does not cause too much trouble, but an unseasonably warm winter 10 years ago allowed the beetle population to explode, which caused an epidemic never before seen in the area.

"Sixty percent of that land mass was impacted and the tree mortality was pretty huge,
said Kathy Bushnell, Public Affairs Officer for the Helena U.S. Forest Service.

Unlike animals, trees can stand dead an average of eight to 15 years, so we're right in the middle of the time where these beetle infested trees should be falling. Bushnell says most infested campground and hiking areas have been treated and cleared at least once since the epidemic, but now there is another problem- safety. 

"We have seen when we go back, when it
s time to remove the trees, we have seen that trees have fallen down on picnic tables," said Bushnell. 

These trees pose a huge risk to public safety. Sadly, one of these dead trees fell on a mother camping with her family last summer killing her.

However, is possible to avoid similar situations from happening again.  Bushnell says people should stay clear of dead trees, which have an orange tint and most do not have any needles on them. In general, Bushnell says, follow your gut.

"If it is a windy day, if they feel uncomfortable, just leave the site. They can come back when it
s less windy, said Bushnell.

The U.S. Forest Service says more than 100,000 of these trees are falling on a daily basis nationwide, so wherever you wander, be on the lookout.

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