Alaska suffers resurgence of beetle that causes tree deaths

KENAI, Alaska (AP) – Kenai wildlife experts say the region is experiencing a resurgence of the spruce bark beetle, an insect with a history of causing tree deaths in south-central Alaska.

The Peninsula Clarion reported Tuesday that the region’s last outbreak of spruce bark beetles was in the late 1990s.

The U.S Forest Service and Alaska Division of Forestry have run annual aerial surveys of damage caused by the beetle since the 1970s. This year’s survey tallied the most damage since 1997.

State Forest Health Program Manager Jason Moan says about 95 percent of that damage was in south-central Alaska.

Former Fish and Wildlife Service ecologist Dr. Ed Berg says prior to the 1990s outbreak, the last major spike in the spruce beetle population was in the 1880s.

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