NEWSLETTER June, 2020


I go around in a circle and revisit stories with new facts that always have the same
ending, an apt description of the management of British Columbia’s forests, grasslands
and wildlife resource that tell a grim story.
The Merriam turkey story I am sending you is a reminder that liberalized hunting,
high road density, massive clear cuts, 3rd rate habitat management and predators hunting
prey species in constant population decline has a cumulative effect on wildlife
populations.
The Merriam turkey is an invasive species that has a 30 year presence in the
Boundary, management units 8-14 Rock Creek area, 8-15 Grand Forks area, thanks to
Washington State transplants in the 90s north of Colville Washington 35 miles south of
the border.
Early May when I was roading my hounds on the Sand Creek road 5 km north west of
Grand Forks City, I stopped the truck and talked to an older couple dressed in camo. I
stated the obvious “you are hunting turkey”.
The instant response from the man was “where are they?” My response “there are not
enough turkeys to justify a limited entry hunt let alone a General Open Season!” Their
response to my answer is another reminder that wildlife and hunting have a grim future
in B.C. “We live in Kelowna, recently moved from Alberta. There is nothing to hunt in
B.C. so we usually hunt in Alberta.”
Twenty years since the start of hunting in 2000 the Merriam turkey population in the
Boundary has collapsed.
Proposed Regulation Changes for 1999-2000
Turkey Limited Entry in 8-15 Proposed number of authorizations 5
Rationale-population has increased in the past few years (anecdotal population
estimate of 200)
The Limited Entry Hunt was replaced with a General open season in 2006 for eight
management units in spite of a small population: bearded turkey April 15/May 15.
The story in the shadows that validated a General Open Season was the turkey, a
non-native species would negatively impact grouse populations. The GOS made it very
clear the Merriam turkey was not wanted in the 5 management units in the Okanagan
Valley where sightings were virtually non-existent.
In 2010 the General Open Season in the spring was complimented with an “any
turkey season Oct. 1-Oct. 15 for the same management units except 8-1 Osoyoos/Oliver
and 8-9 Penticton Oct. 1-Nov. 30.
Contrary to the anecdotal stories from credible hunters I am sharing with you that
describe a dramatic decline in the turkey population starting 10 years ago the BC
Wildlife Federation recent wild turkey hunting survey April 15, 2020 is another
reminder that when you sell hunting opportunity the conservation ethic is
compromised.
“Turkey hunting has grown over the last two decades in B.C. as populations of the
wild turkey have increased “ General Open Season hunt opportunities currently exist
in Region 4 and 8. Some hunters are specializing in turkey hunting ( i.e. Purchasing
equipment specific to turkey hunting and are travelling to these regions to experience a
B.C. turkey hunt.)
The Guns of Autumn article which appears in the Oct/Nov issue of B.C.Outdoors has
been written by former Region 8 Biologist Brian Harris for many years.
Brian’s hunting forecast for Region 8 Okanagan in the Oct/Nov 2019 issue of
B.C. Outdoors as usual has no connection to wildlife populations in the Boundary.
It was my intention to ignore Brian Harris’ comments describing Boundary wildlife
populations and concentrate on his hollow, vacant call “wild turkey are doing well in
the eastern half of the region” but the story changed direction after talking to two
veteran Washington State hunters, Richard Eich from Republic and Daniel Blatt from
the Colville area.
Richard and Daniel made the point Washington State has plenty of turkeys
notwithstanding liberal hunting seasons and bag limits.
My connection with Richard Eich who lives in Republic is a result of his long history
hunting bear and cougar with hounds in Ferry and Stevens County which touch the
border . Washington State closed cougar and bear hunting with hounds in 1996 but he
still gets 7 or 8 cougar complaint calls a year. Richard’s description of mule deer,
moose, wolf populations is a common call in many jurisdiction: mule deer, moose
populations in serious decline, wolf tracks and scat easy to find.
Daniel Blatt who lives in the Colville area is a volunteer voice for the National
Wild Turkey Federation. Daniel owns a ranch and is familiar with turkey complaints
from ranchers. I asked Daniel if there was a record of the Grand Forks NWTF
banquet/fund raiser my wife and I organized the event with our NWTF contact but lost
the file. Daniel is a volunteer and has no connection to past NWTF records whereas our
contact 15 years ago was a paid employee.
I wonder how many bare root trees and shrubs that provide a food source for wildlife I
purchased from a nursery in Pennsylvania thanks to a subsidized price arranged by
NWTF and subsequently distributed to interested parties, are still growing in Grand
Forks? A small initiative with limited profit compared to the habitat enhancement
gained by removing the domestic cow from all sensitive, important environments:
parks, important water courses and areas important to wildlife.
Washington State spring Turkey season 2020
May 5-May 31- male turkey and turkey with visible beard
Bag limit, a total of three birds
Fall Season
Sept. 1-Dec. 31- two beardless and two either sex
British Columbia 2018-2020 Hunting & Trapping Synopsis Region 8 Okanagan
Spring Season-April 15-May 15 bearded turkey bag limit 1
Fall Season- Oct. 1- Oct. 15 any turkey- bag limit 1
During my conversation with Richard and Daniel I made the point that the
cumulative Effect of liberalized hunting regulations is one of the major reasons there
has been a dramatic decrease in the population of prey species, especially whitetail and
mule deer. The result is that the cougar, wolf, bobcat, lynx, coyote, bear, goshawk,
horned owls have a constant diminishing food source to hunt. I also reminded
Richard and Daniel that Limited Entry Hunting of whitetail doe, moose and elk
populations in the Boundary were rolled over to General Open seasons.
Both hunter were in disbelief when I described the length of deer hunting seasons in
the Boundary and consequently agreed that the cumulative effects of hunting
opportunity would dramatically reduce prey species and in due course predator
populations.
British Columbia 2018-2020 Hunting & Trapping Synopsis
Boundary 8-12, 8-14, 8-15
whitetail buck rifle season- 82 days plus youth/Bow seasons
whitetail doe rifle season since 2010- 21 days
mule deer buck- 4 point 62 days plus youth/ bow seasons
Washington State- Modern Firearm General Deer Seasons
whitetail buck rifle season 14 days-Ferry/Steven Counties that touch the border
whitetail- Hunters 65 or over, disabled and youth General Seasons have been replaced
with a conservative number of special permits given on a draw system based on
application history of each applicant.
Mule deer buck rifle season 11 days
Rick Seymour lives in the Christina Lake area, his property is adjacent to the border
and Highway # 395. I recently had two conversations with Rick, before and after
conversations with Richard Eich and Daniel Blatt.
Ten years ago 50-60 turkeys were a common sight on his property as there was in
adjacent water sheds: Fife, Santa Rosa and Stewart Creek. Rick hasn’t hunt turkeys for 5
years. Recently he counted 6 in his field.
After informing him that Washington State had plenty of turkeys Rick agreed the
Cumulative Effects of hunting opportunity was one major reason the Boundary
turkey population collapsed. He believes predators particularly the bobcat in his area
were a primary reason for the collapse of the turkey population.
In conclusion I believe the hunting opportunity agenda that embraced the
alternative prey hypothesis and sanctioned the whitetail deer hunting seasons that
have destroyed the population is one of the reasons the Merriam turkey population in
Region8 Okanagan has collapsed.
An example of the science that describes the alternative prey hypothesis is explained
in “Effects of white-tailed Deer Expansion on Cougar Predation of Mule Deer” in
two new independent study areas (Kettle Fall and Republic) by capturing and radio
monitoring cougars from 2002 to 2004, a good starting point to critique the NDP
Government current agenda of destroying moose populations to help adjacent caribou
populations to recover.
Conclusions
Our results suggest that increased numbers of white-tailed deer results in an
increased number of cougars. The increased number of cougars results in increased
cougar predation on mule deer and possibly increased cougar complaints.
The Big Question Conveniently Ignored!
Murphy reminds us assumption is the motherhood of all screw-ups.
Knowledgeable hunters, naturalists and concerned citizens have been forced to
witness a catastrophic collapse of wildlife populations in B.C. not seen in the modern
era of wildlife management on the North American continent!
The alternative prey hypothesis is meaningless dribble when prey species
populations are at historic lows!
Testimonials:

  1. Les Best- Rock Creek- Hard to find turkeys, hunted in 2019 and didn’t see a
    turkey.
  2. Guy Owen- Midway- Guy sees a few turkeys in Kerr Creek watershed but most
    birds in his area are adjacent to the International border.
  3. Al Grant- West Johnson Creek west of Rock Creek, seldom sees turkeys, no
    sightings recently
  4. Dawson Long- Rock Creek few turkeys sighted.
  5. John Halstrom- Greenwood- Deadwood flock gone, sees a few in Kerr creek.
  6. Fred Marshall- Kerr Creek NE of Midway, agrees not enough turkeys to justify a
    Limited Entry Hunt.
  7. Ollie Alendale- Grand Forks- turkeys have disappeared.
  8. Del Hiltz- Penticton- hunts the Christina Lake area sees few turkeys, no hunting
    camps as was the way in the past.
  9. Barb Nicolson- In my experience the Turkey used to be in almost every part of the
    guide territory. Sadly in the last number of years it is difficult to find them outside
    of private property. Yes, they can be found but it feels morally wrong to harvest
    one as is becoming the case with other species in B.C.
    10.Bear Brandow- I could harvest a turkey but I would feel guilty when the
    population is so small.
    11.Rick Seymour- Christina Lake property adjacent to border and Hwy. # 395- few
    birds, haven’t hunted on his property for 5 years.
    The upshot:
    The Merriam turkey population in the Boundary is not large enough to
    legitimately justify a Limited Entry Hunt; nevertheless the turkey season will remain the
    same for decades, after all that is the British Columbia way of managing wildlife.
    Barry Brandow Sr.

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