If you took the time to use the link to gain access to the “Provincial Framework for Moose Management in British Columbia” I hope you found much to be pleased with, after all it is a small ray of light shining on a resource that has been ruthlessly exploited.
The problem with experience and knowledge is that you can quickly find the problems that question the merit of the project but rather than make my point that questions the credibility of retired provincial biologists and moose population inventory I am going to send you four pages of information that will allow you to better judge for yourself if the cornerstone of the project is on the right track -population inventory.
The following quote gives us the proper perspective for an intelligent discussion on wildlife inventory in B.C.
“Across North America wildlife agencies do not have enough funding and staff to obtain adequate inventory information on populations and habitat- the cornerstone of all wildlife management programs”. Page 2- British Columbia’s Environment- Planning for the Future Managing wildlife to 2001- A Discussion Paper
The two pages of wildlife inventory information from Alberta are an easy read and obtained from the Management Plan for White-tailed Deer and the Management Plan for Mule Deer that can be found on the Alberta Forestry, Lands and Wildlife Web Page.
Both reports are extensive and give an in depth report on many facets of wildlife management very seldom brought forward in B.C.
One of the better sound bytes that gets no attention in BC is found on page 53 of the Mule Deer Report.
Crippling Losses and Illegal Harvest- Crippling losses as a result of hunting are not documented in Alberta but Losch and Samuel (1976) reviewed several studies in the United States and found an average loss equal to 23 percent of the reported kill during either sex seasons (15 studies) and 27 percent during buck only seasons (11 studies)
I am also sending you two pages of information from four retired BC provincial biologists that emphasize the importance of conservative wildlife management and the inherent weakness in population inventory in BC.
Retired Region 8 Okanagan/Boundary biologists Al Peatt and Bob Lincoln who I knew well stress the importance of conservative wildlife management in their quotes 1988 and 1992-93. Compare the road density in their time to the road density to-day and ask yourself how is it possible to have more mule/whitetail deer hunting opportunity and not compromise their population?
Senior Kamloops provincial biologist, Fred Harper in his Okanagan Mule Deer Harvest Strategy Jan. 1998 makes the case that wildlife population inventory “are simply best guesses based almost entirely on empirical information (observation)”
His suggestion that the “hunter harvest data is the only hard data available and will therefore be the primary data base for formulating desired harvest levels” is one of the significant problems that questions the validity of all BC wildlife population inventories especially for animals hunted in OGS (open general season)
Remember Alberta wildlife managers describe indirect methods such as hunter harvest surveys and jaw bone inspection as only providing information on distribution and age/sex ratios but only crude estimates of population size.
In typical assumption that is the hallmark of wildlife inventories in BC the biometric biologist (I forget his name) in the early seventies made the case that cougar hunters were harvesting approximately 450 cougar a year.
As a member of the Fraser valley Trail Hound Association I drafted a resolution that mandated the compulsory inspection of a cougar kill that was unanimously supported at a BC Wildlife Federation Convention in Kamloops.
To maximize our odds of success we convinced Director of Wildlife, Jim Hatter to accompany us on a black bear hunt with hounds in the Skagit Valley. We were successful on two counts; Jim harvested a black bear with his bow and in the process we convinced him to support our resolution.
The upshot of the first compulsory cougar harvest report- 150 cougar.
The facts made it clear that the estimated harvest of cougar in the seventies was nothing more than a wild guess using irrelevant information from the yearly Provincial Game Commission Reports which in 1955 (the only record I have) paid a bounty of $20 for 359 cougar paid at 30 town/cities across the province. A bonus of $20 was also paid for 154 cougar. BONUS?
I have given you a primary lesson on the salient facts that should be used and facts not used in wildlife population inventories that I will present in the near future when talking about specific wildlife populations.
The big question that few people want answered is how many provincial biologists and wildlife managers are on record as fanatical supporters of hunting opportunity and in the process have left sound bytes that question their future employment? Certainly no one is going to be fired but the Mike Morris Report cannot be ignored nor the major problem that is at the center of the problem –wildlife population inventory.
It is true the biggest problem facing the wildlife resource in our province as is the case on the planet is the sorry state of wildlife habitat and the next few newsletters via pictures will show you the challenges facing the long list of wildlife species that inhabit the Gilpin Grasslands a metaphor for the rest of the province.
Barry Brandow Sr.
Here is the Moose Enhancement News Release: 2016FLNR0026-000343
Here are the Biologist Quotes:
Quotes from Former Provincial Biologists- That reinforce the merit of Conservative Wildlife Management
BC Wildlife Population Inventory-History
- Okanagan Deer Harvest Report
Senior biologist Bob Lincoln Jan. 15, 1988
“In the Okanagan where roads are abundant, suggesting a potential for localized over-harvest and where wildlife management staffing capacity does not allow for careful monitoring of local deer herd status it is prudent to be fairly conservative in harvest strategy.
- Okanagan Mule Deer Harvest Strategy
Senior biologist Fred Harper Jan. 1998
“Unfortunately there is no known affordable technique to precisely estimate population sizes anywhere within the southern Interior Region. The often closed canopy forests make sightability of mule deer totally unreliable thereby precluding any statistically valid population estimates. Any population estimates that do exist are simply best guesses based almost entirely on empirical information.
Reliable population census data for the Okanagan area are not available. Unfortunately, there is no known affordable technique to precisely estimate population sizes anywhere within the Southern Interior Region. The often closed canopy forests, make sightability of mule deer totally unreliable, thereby precluding any statistically valid population estimate. Any population estimates that do exist are simply ‘best-guesses’, based almost entirely on empirical information. Winter carry-over counts have been conducted, but sample sizes were usually too small to allow confidence in the results. Such data however, even if sample sizes are adequate, do not provide a population estimate; they only provide an indication of adult sex ratios and herd productivity. These data are critical to monitoring the viability of the living deer herds, fiscal and staffing shortages have precluded obtaining sufficient information to provide conclusive results. The only data available to indicate population trend are hunter harvest data.
Hunter harvest data, specifically the annual harvest and the annual kill per unit effort, can be used to indicate trends in population size, as well as to forecast population trends with varying harvest strategies. However, in the absence of reliable population size and structure data, several assumptions have to be made, thereby limiting the confidence of such data analyses. Nevertheless, the hunter harvest data is the only ‘hard’ data available, and will therefore be the primary data base for formulating desired harvest levels.
- Deer Harvest Regulation 1992/93 Provincial Biologist, Alan Peatt
“In general it seems most deer hunters are satisfied with the success rate and effort that they enjoy in the Okanagan. Hunters do not wish to jeopardize that success; therefore changes in Okanagan deer hunting regulations should be incremental and conservative. Each change should be followed by an assessment to ensure that the results are beneficial to deer populations and to deer hunting.
- Mule Deer and white-tailed deer population review for the Kootenay Region of British Columbia Garth Mowat- Senior Wildlife Biologist- Gerry Kuzyk Ungulate Biologist
The single factor controlled by the wildlife manager is hunting regulations and these are often changed for reasons other than quality data. No perfect index appears to exist to measure population change so all indices discussed must be viewed with some skepticism and are best used in concert with other population data (Hatter 2001)