Global Warming and Yellowstone Grizzly Bears

So much climate change news this week and last. It takes a team of people, as at Gristmill, just to take note. But here’s a great story in The New York Times about the Yellowstone Grizzly Bear, and why global warming may take away its winter dinner, and what one grizzly bear fan is trying to do about it. Take it away, Jesse Logan and Charles Petit!

In 2001, Dr. Logan set up an observing station at a broad stand of whitebark pines at the timberline at Railroad Ridge in the White Cloud Mountains of Idaho. He expected a beetle infestation, but not for a while, and planned to collect data before the insects showed.

Almost immediately, in 2002 and 2003, telltale patches of “red top” trees appeared. Today virtually all the mature whitebarks there are dead. “It was the most magnificent whitebark ecosystem I’d seen,” Dr. Logan said. “It broke my heart.”

New computer projections done by Dr. Logan and Jacques Régnière of the Canadian Forest Service based on recent climate and other data for the mountain West show most whitebark pine forests being wiped out as warming continues. But the Wind River Range is projected to stay cold until 2100 or so, which, if the model is right, means they could be a refuge for grizzlies forced out of areas where the trees die.


Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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