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Sweden to launch beetle rescue mission

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Sweden to launch beetle rescue mission
06:48 CET+01:00
Sweden plans to employ helicopters to save an endangered species of beetle in the country's far north, regional officials said Thursday.

"About 50 burnt pine stumps, which this species of beetle is particularly fond of, will be transported by helicopter and released ... in the national parks in the region where it was observed," Tomas Rydkvist, a wildlife official in the Västernorrland region, told AFP.

The beetle, a flatheaded pine borer or Chalcophora mariana, is shiny black and copper in colour and is about three centimetres (about an inch) long.

Rydkvist said the beetle's natural habitat is made up of open, sparse forests with lots of dead trees. Ideally the trees would have burned in a forest fire.

"We thought the species had disappeared from Sweden, as fires are better controlled nowadays. But in the summer of 2007 several specimens were observed" in Västernorrland, Rydkvist said.

The total cost of the helicopter rescue is expected to amount to around 100,000 kronor ($12,533), Rydkvist said, adding that was "not a lot of money."

"If the species disappears, we could spend all the money in the world but it wouldn't help bring it back," he said.

Rydkvist said it was hoped the operation would help to firmly reestablish the beetle in these areas.

The effort is part of government programme aimed at reducing the number of threatened species by 30 percent by 2015, Rydkvist said.

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