BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Whitebark pine trees can live more than 1,000 years, but in just two decades more than a quarter of the trees that are a key food source for some grizzly bears have been killed by disease, climate change, wildfires and voracious beetles.

U.S. officials on Wednesday planned to announce federal protections for the trees in hopes of shielding them from extinction. Environmentalists had petitioned the government in 1991 and again in 2008 to protect the trees.

The belated acknowledgement of the tree’s severe decline requires officials to craft a recovery plan and pursue restoration work.

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