Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
FIA Project M086037

    Implications on Grizzly bears and Moose of Forest Management in Response to the 1970's Mountain Pine Beetle Infestations in the Flathead Drainage
Project lead: McLellan, Bruce (BC Ministry of Forests and Range)
Contributing Authors: Munro, Robin; McLellan, Bruce N.; Apps, Clayton D.; Poole, Kim G.; Stuart-Smith, Kari
Subject: Forest Investment Account (FIA), British Columbia
Series: Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
Mountain pine beetles have attacked a significant portion of the lodgepole pine trees in British Columbia and many of these trees will be killed. Because lodgepole pine usually grows in a relative monoculture after wildfire, trees in forests over large tracks of land will die. Foresters are faced with various options for salvage logging, and post harvest silviculture. The consequence of the dead trees and rapid and extensive forest harvesting, will have significant implications for other members of the ecological community. In many portions of the area where pine are dying, grizzly bears and moose are high profile species that may be effected by decisions made by the forest industry. Although the extent of the current mountain pine beetle epidemic is unprecedented in history, it is not the first epidemic. In the 1970’s, many entire valleys of predominantly lodgepole pine were attacked, most of the pines died, and were either left unharvested or salvage logged followed by site treatment and usually replanting. With decisions regarding the management of the current situation needed immediately, an obvious question is “what can we learn from the past to guide us now?” For several reasons, the Flathead valley in southeastern BC is uniquely suited to address this question. First, it is a very wide valley that was dominated with lodgepole pine after fires in the 1920’s and 1930’s. The width of the valley more closely mimics broader plateau terrain than other drainages that are relatively narrow causing the epidemic to be more fragmented by high mountains and forest unsusceptible to the beetle. Second, the Flathead valley is divided by the Canada/US border. Lodgepole pines were salvage harvested north of the border, but left totally unmanaged in Glacier National Park, immediately to the south. Finally, there has been 27 years of continuous monitoring of the grizzly bear population in the valley and more recent information on the habitat selection of moose. These characteristics make this area a potentially valuable study site to rapidly review what has happened over the past 3 decades since the mountain pine beetle killed most of the pine trees. This project will investigate the response by grizzly bears to the development of the valley for salvage logging across spatial scales using 3 methods: 1) broad landscape scale features influencing the distribution and abundance of grizzly bears during spring will be measured by doing a “hair-snagging” DNA grid north of the border to compare with data from the grid already done south of the border, 2) the stand to landscape selection of lodgepole pine stands and salvage logged cutting units will be quantified over time using existing and newly acquired VHF and GPS locations, and 3) ecological and physical attributes of sites used by grizzly bears in lodgepole pine and salvage logged areas will be compared to randomly located sites. For moose, existing GPS telemetry data will be used to investigate the two finer (stand/landscape and site) scales of habitat selection. A significant aspect of this project is to develop and deliver an information package based on what has been learned in the Flathead to be viewed and discussed by foresters and wildlife managers in other parts of British Columbia.


Implications of Forest Management... (Report) (1.5Mb)
Winter Habitat Selection (Report) (0.1Mb)

To view PDF documents you need Adobe Acrobat Reader, available free from the Adobe Web Site.

Updated August 16, 2010 

Search for other  FIA reports or other Ministry of Forests and Range publications.

Please direct questions or comments regarding publications to