U.S. government will add whitebark pine to endangered species list

Critical high altitude pine has been nearly wiped out by beetles, fire, blister rust-

These trees with fat rich nuts are already getting federal government attention, but mortality is even worse than thought. The large majority of whitebark grow on U.S. public lands. The work will concentrate on protecting existing stands using pheromones to confuse the bark beetle, maybe insecticides, and collection of seeds from beetle and blister rust resistant trees.

The whitebark pine nuts are of great food value to grizzly bears.  The high altitude location of the stands also keep the bears out of harms way during hunting season. Whitebark pine also support the Clarks Nutcracker, another member of the super intelligent jay (Corvidae) family.

A tree with a few, but tremendous biological threats like the whitebark, makes me think the unthinkable to some. Perhaps some genetic engineering might produce a whitebark that the beetles hates and cannot be infected by this non-native rust. We would not have to worry about the promiscuous spread of engineered trees because they grow slowly.

Details on the listing are in the Jackson Hole Daily.



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  1. CodyCoyote Avatar

    Yes, they will technically add the Whitebark Pine to the Endangered Species list, but in the same sentence say they wont do anything about it for the forseeable. No money , no resources, no manpower to address the criticality.

    It’s just a wave of the arm and some words…

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar


      Yes, the sorry “warranted but precluded” label because of the deliberate defunding of ESA operations. This won’t be remedied until there is political change at a higher level.

      Fortunately there is agency interest in recovering whitebark pine. USFWS funds don’t need to be used, and there are no interest groups opposed to protecting whitebark.

  2. Pronghorn Avatar

    The heading on this post sent me to the recycle bin for the morning paper, as I was sure I had read just the opposite. The Missoulian and Billings Gazette AP articles have this headline: “Whitebark pines ailing, but don’t get federal endangered species listing.” Maybe it’s just a matter of semantics, but “warranted but precluded” isn’t really the same as making the list or getting listed, as the Jack Hole Daily states. Just ask the wolverine!

  3. Mike Avatar

    Unfortunately most people don’t understand what it means when indicator species start disappearing. If they did, we’d have the resources to implement immediate action.

    We’re on the same list, just a little bit down.

  4. WM Avatar

    Whitebark pine on Mt. Rainier, near Sunrise, hold promise for disease resistant propagation, researchers say.



Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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