Whitebark pine are being killed by a disease, white pine blister rust, as well an insect, the mountain pine beetle, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Meanwhile, other species of trees have crowded out whitebark pine due to fire suppression efforts over the past century, the agency said.
The Wildwest Institute and the Alliance for the Wild Rockies couldn’t convince the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that whitebark pine should be a priority for protection under the Endangered Species Act. The Fish and Wildlife Service found whitebark pine to be warranted for listing but precluded by higher priorities. The priority system the agency uses for considering additional species made whitebark pine a priority for listing, but the court held that the Service doesn’t have to follow its own priorities. Whitebark pine remains a candidate species.