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Mountain Pine Beetle - History in Mountain Parks

map of the Mountain Parks - showing Southern Rockies, Continental divide, northeastern slopes overlaid on map showing park boundaries.

QUICK FACTS

MPB outbreaks in the mountain national parks are not new:

  • Two major outbreaks have occurred in Kootenay (1930-45 and 1981- present).
  • In Yoho there was a smaller infestation in the 1930's, and current populations are quickly increasing.
  • Waterton had an extensive outbreak that occurred in the late 1970's and early 1980's.
  • Banff had a minor outbreak between 1940-43, a smaller outbreak in the 1970's and early 1980's in the Upper Spray Valley.
  • In 1999, mountain pine beetle was recorded for the first time in Jasper.

Where did Mountain Pine Beetle come from?

Did mountain pine beetle come from somewhere else, or have they always been in the Mountain Parks? We know that mountain pine beetle is a naturally occurring insect found in pine forests in the southern Rocky Mountains and in areas west of the Continental Divide. Due to limited historical records, they have not previously been recorded on the northeastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. This does not necessarily mean that they were absent, but rather demonstrates a lack of surveying. Currently, an abundance of mature pine trees as a result of many years of wildfire suppression and milder winters have combined to enable the expansion of mountain pine beetle into large tracts of pine forest. The mountain pine beetle has been able to survive winters farther north than previously seen.

Photograph showing a uniform forest composed of mature trees in the Spray Valley in Banff National Park Large tracts of pine trees in Spray Valley - Banff National Park.
© Parks Canada / Ian Pengelly

To see what tools Mountain Parks are using to manage mountain pine beetle click here.

This page is part of the CFS mountain pine beetle website. It provides text, photos and animations about historical mountain pine beetle activity in British Columbia.