NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The migrating Southern Pine Beetle is destroying large swaths of the New Jersey Pine Barrens — 14,000 acres and counting.

Private forester Bob Williams said the tiny beetles — which measure about 1/8th of an inch — carry a fungus that clogs the tree’s vascular system

WCBS 880’s Sean Adams Reports

“I’ve been going into our forests this fall, where we kind of see a few trees and come back a few weeks later and there’s acres dead,” Williams told WCBS 880’s Sean Adams.

pine beetles ap Pine Beetle Wreaking Havoc On New Jersey Trees

Pine Beetles (Ed Andrieski/AP)

Even with big outbreaks in 2002 and 2003, New Jersey Forest Service officials said the current problem is 7 to 10 times worse than it has ever been.

“We’ve never seen any documentation of past infestations of southern pine beetles involving so many thousands of acres. This is pretty new to us,” David Finley of the New Jersey Forest Service told The Star Ledger.

“The cost of the damage can be astronomical to restore forests. The fire hazard is extremely high as it is. You can imagine with thousands of acres of dead trees,” Williams said.

Williams said the beetles can’t be stopped. However, cutting down buffer zones could help keep them in check. New Jersey officials are working on a plan of action.

Williams said landowners he has talked to were “very, very upset”

“They are looking out their window and their forests…it’s all these dead trees [that] are falling,” Williams said.

Scientists who have been studying the beetles for decades are aiding officials in their efforts.

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