Category Archives: NEWSLETTERS

NEWSLETTER February 25, 2018

The story and pictures I am sending you are a backdrop to my family’s strong request that the Granby California Bighorn Sheep harvest permits be reduced from eight to six and eventually five!

The rationale for reducing the harvest permits is twofold. A harvest of eight bighorn rams will quickly result in virtually no ram living longer than 6 ½ years.

The strategic argument for reducing harvest permits is our province’s long history of always finding and supporting a hollow vacant scientific argument that validates taking more. The sorry state of whitetail, blacktail and mule deer populations underscores my point.

The Gilpin Grasslands, the home of the bighorns is a small range that touches 7 watersheds. The area has a high road density.

It is true to-day that the California Bighorn Rams on Gilpin represent the highest percent of rams per population in the province. It is also true that California Bighorn Sheep are a heartbreak animal that is highly vulnerable to domestic livestock diseases, especially when they come in contact with domestic goats and domestic sheep.

In the mid nineties the Pass Creek bighorns contacted a pneumonia bug that resulted in a 65-70% population die-off. Although we tried to prevent contact with rancher, Don McDonald’s domestic sheep we obviously failed. Our small fencing initiative was no match for the bitterness and anger of a few ranchers who opposed the February 1984 Pass Creek California bighorn transplant.

Prior to the pneumonia outbreak approximately 15 older rams contacted foot rot and died over a five year period. The provincial lab in Abbotsford determined that the foot rot was the result of bighorns coming in contact with the two bacteria that cause the problem in domestic cows.

      The history of the Gilpin Grassland California Bighorn Sheep transplant, March 1985 (12) and January 1986 (13) is a story that showcased how self serving and corrupt the Overton/Moody (bookend watersheds of Gilpin) Co-ordinated Resource Management Plan process was. The behavior of range staff and ranchers during the February 1984 Pass Creek bighorn transplant made it clear there would be no transparency or accountability. They lost one fight and had no intention of losing another.

The last bighorn sheep transplant meeting February 27, 1985 was tense but cordial. District and Regional Agrologists; Jim Maxwell and Jack King failed to sell their argument. Their game was done when Social Credit MLA/Cabinet Minister, Jim Hewitt described the 15 reasons presented to deny the transplant as silly. “Barry you only have one problem, Highway #3.”

It is hardly surprising that Agrologists Jim Maxwell and Jack King  put on a dismal performance, after all they both were the heart and soul of the November 1976 Overton/Moody Co-ordinated Resource Management Plan that totally discounted the major reason the Social Credit Government purchased the 1470 acre Boothman Ranch.

Early afternoon of the February 27, 1985 meeting Ace Elkink, the BC Cattlemen’s representative asked Zeke Withler, the Regional Wildlife Manager; “Are the sheep coming to Grand Forks in spite of opposition from ranchers”? A look of dismay and shock silenced the meeting when Zeke said yes. Gordon Nichols, the District Manager confirmed the bighorns were coming to Grand Forks. Zeke had a sheepish look on his face as he knew the Ministry of Environment’s credibility was on the line.

MOF District Manager, Gord Nichols was red faced when he confirmed the bighorns were coming to Grand Forks and was well down the road in getting even. The last of the 18 introductions was made by Gord when he introduced District Agrologist, Jim Maxwell “Jim is here to-day to give me advice should I ask him but he will not answer questions from the table”.

 That was the end of Jim’s career in Grand Forks. Needless to say Gord Nichol’s introduction and Zeke Withler’s answer to Ace Elkink never appeared in the minutes.

In a conversation October, 1984 Jim Hewitt made it clear that Highway #3 was a problem. Subsequently Wayne Rieberger and I signed a contract drafted by lawyer, Dan Geronazzo that committed us to build one mile of physical barrier fencing. The contract had no standing in law but did get Jim’s endorsement of the bighorn transplant. Fencing Highway #3 dominated the meeting after Zeke Withler’s proclamation that the bighorns were coming to Grand Forks.

The support for and against the transplant made it very clear that the credibility of the Fish & Wildlife Branch was on the line in spite of a political decision. Failure to keep bighorns off Highway #3 would challenge future wildlife transplant initiatives, a point guaranteed to be made by the agriculture sector.

The case for the bighorn transplant was made by Provincial Government Biologist, Bob Lincoln and was subsequently endorsed by stakeholders: increased interest in wildlife viewing, provide a new but small hunting opportunity and most importantly create another buffer to the inevitable disease that plagues California Bighorn Sheep, a Blue Listed Species (threatened).

The names that supported the transplant guaranteed I would honor my commitment: Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce, Provincial Chamber of Commerce, Grand Forks City Council, Area C and D of the Regional District of Kootenay/Boundary (rural Grand Forks and Christina Lake), Sierra Club, Local and provincial Naturalists, Hotels, Motels and Campgrounds of BC and a large petition of support from the community.

The spirited opposition also guaranteed,that one mile of fencing would only be a tepid start to a much longer journey: MOF District and Regional Agrologists, Grand Forks Stockbreeders Association, BC Cattlemen’s Association, British Columbia Institute of Agrologists, Advance Orchard, BC Wildlife Federation (Until the 11th hour) and landowners south of the highway.

The one mile commitment was fenced by a successful raffle that netted $1500.00. The second raffle broke even and made it clear there was only one way to raise the money to build the fence that would keep the bighorns off Highway #3; a permit that allowed me to sell a bighorn sheep hunt to a non-resident hunter.

    It was a sweet moment, quickly forgotten when the magnitude of building a mile of wildlife fence in rocky ground dominated the conversation. Twelve foot treated posts in the ground 44” is a daunting task when your fence is adjacent to a rock quarry. It wasn’t much of a fence by to-day’s standard but we made our one mile commitment.

The political reality made it very clear that the agriculture sector would look for every opportunity to discredit the project, especially those at the tip of the triangle who refused to accept no.

As expected it was a painful journey to get BC Wildlife Federation support for a permit but eventually we found a way to work together.

    End of story, no just the end of an abbreviated chapter in a much longer story, after all the bighorn sheep file is 3” thick, but now we are on the highway right of way building a fence and no one is going to stop us!

We lost the permit 10 years ago which means to-day we are reimbursed for material (wire & posts) but are on the hook for paying contractors, primarily backhoe operator.

A few of us have a good rapport with the community and as a result we get phone calls when the bighorns are on the highway, some problems can be fixed but not all!

Why has a one mile commitment become a 33 year journey? The simple answer- respect for wildlife is non-existent; agreements are quickly lost to hollow vacant voices who want more!

Notwithstanding there is going to be a winter die off of ungulates thanks to a brutal winter that does not want to stop. The 2018 Budget Speech does present a small ray of hope for the future of the province’s wildlife resource:

“And 14 million dollars over three years will help develop and implement a revitalized BC wildlife management initiative to better protect wildlife through conservation, biodiversity and habitat protection”.

I will quickly send you the Sucker Punch Story, an interesting read for anyone wanting an education on how our bureaucracy works when the blood is up.

Barry Brandow Sr.

 

NEWSLETTER January 1, 2018

NEW YEAR, NEW BC. NDP Provincial Government!

Will this be the first provincial government in a generation to acknowledge the province’s wildlife resource has been ruthlessly exploited and consequently start the process of reducing hunting seasons and bag limits? Wildlife habitat and predators will always be a big issue but when wildlife populations are down 80, 90 and 95% reducing hunting pressure is the primary objective.

It has taken twenty years for the BC Liberal and NDP Parties to accept the province’s wildlife resource is in serious population decline. But are both political parties big enough to discredit publically “this new age thinking called  Professional Reliance” that has resulted in liberalized hunting opportunity sanctioned by a statistical bubble of population and harvest estimates by our provincial government biologists and aggressively supported by the BC Wildlife Federation, the parent body of organized hunting clubs

The Hunting/Trapping questionnaire that requested comments on proposed hunting regulations until January 18 and a hollow report by Mark Hall, “Are Hunters Undermining Wildlife Conservation in the East Kootenay” give us more than enough opportunity to critique wildlife management and dam little to cheer about.

I do give credit to Minister Donaldson for a transparent Angling/Hunting/Trapping Engagement process which is far superior to the discredited Wildlife Regulations Advisory Committee but the process is at best a feeble attempt to address a well advertised problem of a wildlife resource in serious population decline.

As expected there is no request for comment on hunting regulation changes in Region 8 Okanagan even though the whitetail in sub units 8-12, 8-14 and 8-15 (Boundary) is down at least 90% from its high in the early 90s nor any mention that the black bear population in the Boundary is in significant decline.

The political tea leaves as I read them, suggest it will take at least another provincial government election cycle before the government of the day is going to accept that provincial government biologists and the BC Wildlife Federation are not credible voices.

That indictment centers on three major failures: there is no Trust but Verify of the impacts of hunting seasons and bag limits on wildlife populations; there has been no effort to discuss the limitations of science; the depth of experience and knowledge gained by many years of hunting necessary to understand the impacts of hunting regulations is alarmingly shallow.

    The 2016-2018 Hunting and Trapping Synopsis was a reminder our provincial government biologists remain totally disconnected from “real” wildlife populations on our mountains.

    Notwithstanding the preponderance of the evidence, I have shared with you from hunters, outfitters throughout the region: Osoyoos, Keremeos, Kelowna, Vernon, Rock Creek, Grand Forks, Castlegar and Trail that dictates the mule and whitetail deer populations in Region 8 Okanagan are a shadow of a past generation; the regional bag limit was increased to three.

    Trust but Verify certainly worked for Presidents, Reagan and Gorbachev who successfully negotiated a reduction in nuclear warhead missiles and that rallying call has to be a major initiative to challenge the legions of statistical nonsense from our provincial government biologists that have validated a dramatic increase in hunting opportunity.

Mutual on site inspection of nuclear warhead missile sites by Americans and Russians convinced both countries that they had a deal!

The credible voice of the veteran hunter, the major asset of all successful enterprises, has been totally discounted as a critical arbitrator of hunting seasons and bag limits in British Columbia.

Reports/studies are typically biased to represent the views of those who benefit from the research, a point well made by Lynn Jacobs in his 1991 well documented “Waste of the West Public Lands Ranching”.

Science is not truth but an approach to the truth– a malleable cultural tool. Depending on how it is used science may be a method of fact finding, distortion or concealment. Accordingly you can prove nearly everything with science even the need for tens of thousands of nuclear weapons.”

The historical perspective to start an intelligent, thoughtful approach to future hunting seasons and bag limits, in my strong opinion, starts with a review of the salient facts in two easy to read reports by provincial government biologists; Al Peatt and Bob Lincoln presented to Okanagan BC Wildlife Federation Clubs January 1988.

Both reports supported a conservative harvest of antlerless whitetail and mule deer in six subunits in the main Okanagan Valley.

All on my future wildlife management hunting seasons and bag limit recommendations will be connected to the wise advice of both Al Peatt and Bob Lincoln:

“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.

The BC Legislature reconvenes February 13th and after the Lieutenant Governor, the Queen’s representative, reads the NDP Government Speech from the Throne  check out the government’s environmental agenda and mandate letters to the Ministers of Environment and Forests, Lands and Natural Resources on the internet.

In view of the fact that both BC Liberal and BC NDP Parties agree the province’s wildlife resource is in serious trouble can we convince both parties to find common ground via Budget Estimates?

The opposition critic for each ministry is given the opportunity during Budget Estimates to ask the Minister to respond to their questions!

Would both parties agree Professional Reliance has failed the province’s wildlife resource? Would they agree to support a Wildlife Management Advisory of all stakeholders? A roundtable is the only hope of generating the leverage necessary to have any hope of challenging the grim management on our mountains.

Once the BC Liberal leadership race has been decided I will ask the subsequent Liberal critic for the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources to consider my advice.

I will always be steadfast in defending MY critique/judgment of stakeholders who I believe are in a large or small way responsible for the dismal management on our mountains!

Barry Brandow Sr.

 

 

NEWSLETTER December 12, 2017

I write newsletters to educate you and give you the skinny; stories and names that in a small way help to explain the how, who, what, why and when that resulted in the ruthless exploitation of the province’s wildlife resource.

Have British Columbians made any progress in challenging liberalized hunting seasons and bag limits, a major reason many wildlife populations are in steep decline in the twenty-one years since the 1996 NDP Premier Glen Clark demanded more money from the wildlife resource?

Notwithstanding my efforts and the efforts of other stakeholders who have consistently challenged liberalized hunting, the first major step to rebuild wildlife populations gets little attentiondramatically reduce hunting seasons and bag limits.

My following ramble underscores the question; will both the BC NDP and BC Liberal Parties honor statutory responsibility and acknowledge past mistakes by publically announcing wildlife populations will not start to recover until there is a dramatic reduction in hunting seasons and bag limits?

Progress has been painfully slow but the BC Liberal Party has finally recognized the magnitude of the damage done to many wildlife populations.

I spoke to Andrew Wilkinson, one of the BC Liberal leadership candidates at a meeting in Oliver because he has the three BC Liberal MLAs past and present on his team who know the wildlife file and have the measure to be part of the solution: Donna Barnett, Mike Morris and former MLA, Bill Bennett.

When the wife and I met Andrew and told him we were from Grand Forks he immediately asked about the deer in Grand Forks City limits. How many communities in BC since the nineties have an urban deer population? I don’t know but the reason doesn’t change- security and a quality food source.

How many deer committees announced the blacktail, mule and whitetail deer on their historic range were in serious population decline? The answer-NONE

In my discussion with Andrew he did mention there was a concern with population estimates and if he became leader and eventually Premier there would be money for the wildlife management file. He also made it very clear that the two East Kootenay MLAs: Tom Shypitka and Doug Clovechok are very concerned about the collapse of wildlife populations

Before the writ was dropped early April I had a phone conversation with BC Liberal MLA Gordy Hoog and asked him who in the BC Liberal Caucus gave a dam about the sorry state of the management on our mountains. His quick reply-Donna Barnett. I also asked him to explain how the Mike Morris Report went public-“Getting the Balance Right: Improving Wildlife Habitat Management in British Columbia”

“The report came to Caucus not the Premier’s office

Todd Stone, the youngest BC Liberal party leadership candidate was in Grand Forks and acknowledged the decline in wildlife populations and like Andrew mentioned problems with population estimates. I asked him if he would put beautiful BC back on the map. “Yes”

Left of center political parties committed to democratic process have the DNA to go farther and deeper on environmental issues. In BC that point is made by two of the three previous NDP Governments who have left a large positive footprint on the BC land base.

The 1972 Dave Barrett Government legislated the Agriculture Land Reserve at a time when developers were buying farm land for future development.

The Socred Party in 1975 made a promise to scrap the ALR but to their dismay discovered British Columbians would have none of it!

The 1991 Mike Harcourt NDP Government made a commitment to subscribe to the Bruntland Commission endorsed by the United Nations that advised governments set aside 12% of their land base as protected areas.

The parks the Harcourt Government created were a tremendous gift to British Columbians. Unfortunately the proposed Forest Practices Code driven by the mismanagement of the BC Forests, an argument in the media that centered on logging practices in Claquot Sound didn’t survive.

With two out of the three previous NDP Governments leaving a large positive footprint on the BC Landscape and a wildlife resource screaming for help, what are the realistic expectations that the John Horgan NDP Government can cut to the chase and dramatically reduce hunting seasons and bag limits, the first step of wildlife populations starting the long road to recovery?

    Premier Horgan spoke at a meeting in Grand Forks 21/2 years ago and one of his many comments was that he had been an understudy of NDP Premier Mike Harcourt.

Before I offer a suggestion to NDP Premier, John Horgan, who are the NDP leaders on the wildlife file? Katrine Conroy, a strong MLA knows the wildlife file after many conversations with BC hunters. Katrine tells me that cabinet colleague, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources, Doug Donaldson likewise has had a similar journey and is well versed in the many stories describing a wildlife resource ruthlessly exploited.

How does former NDP Premier Mike Harcourt’s support for roundtables square up with NDP Premier John Horgan’s approach to the dismal failed Wildlife Regulations Advisory Committee (WRAC)? July 2016 Draft-Draft Terms of Reference

WRAC was a dismal failure a testament made by hunting regulations that have many wildlife populations in steep decline. Committee meetings were chaired by a Regional Biologist, membership was exclusive and only hunters, outfitters and trappers were allowed to participate.

Transparency and accountability, the hallmark of good government was totally ignored. “Committee members must maintain confidentiality with regard to the individual views and opinions of committee members.” Garbage In Garbage Out.

A roundtable like all democratic political processes is imperfect and will on occasion challenge the patience of most stakeholders but there is no alternative. The Spanish American Philosopher edict says it all: history not learned is history repeated.

A template for a roundtable is the 1992-94 Mike Harcourt NDP West Kootenay/Boundary Commission on Resources and Environmental Roundtable that used facts from legions of information to create provincial parks.

Therefore understudy NDP Premier John Horgan is advised to create a Provincial Roundtable one each for the eight wildlife management regions in the province. The over arching issue is to use reasoned thought and due diligence in creating hunting seasons and bag limits that respect wildlife.

Enough politics for the moment there will be plenty of bad feelings soon enough.

     The big issue and center piece of the solution that challenges the government corruption that has our wildlife resource in a death spiral is acknowledgement that the anecdotal information from credible voices is much more reliable and superior to botched science.

Our wildlife managers have totally failed us and that journey started with the Minister and his muddled message from Cabinet and the freefall in integrity was passed on to the deputy, assistant deputies, director of wildlife and finally regional wildlife managers, all who have failed us.

A quote from Alex Rose may give our bureaucrats a pain killer for the moment:

“Bureaucratic and authoritarian control over scientific results, results in pseudoscience not science. Such a system will fail and lead to scientific blunders.” (Page 28)

I am going to send you a solid critique of forest management by Brian Horejsi in a few days.

Season greetings to all of you and all the best in 2018.

Barry Brandow Sr.

NEWSLETTER November 16, 2017

I am sending you three pages of statistics titled “British Columbia Ungulate Species Regional Population Estimates and status” 2011, 2014 and 2017

Find your wildlife region you hunt or live in and run your finger along that line and look at 2017 preseason estimates for ungulates which have been the heart of Open General Hunting Seasons: moose, elk, deer-blacktail, mule and whitetail.

Region 8 Okanagan Preseason whitetail/mule deer preseason estimates have no connection to reality in Okanagan/Boundary. It does not matter where you travel Okanagan/Boundary in grey light there are very few locations you will see deer and when you do it usually is on or adjacent to private property.

Region 8 Preseason: Mule Deer 2011, 2014 and 2017 – 28000-42000

:  Whitetail 2011, 2014 and 2017 – 31,000- 44000.

If Gerald Kuzyk, the province’s ungulate specialist’s estimates for Region 8 Okanagan had any credibility than Granby Guides & Outfitters would still be offering a guide service for mule and whitetail deer.

It is true Gerald Kuzyk is only a small part of our problem to rebuild wildlife populations but in my opinion, his continued presence will guarantee a dark cloud over the future of the province’s wildlife resource.

Alex Rose “Who Killed the Grand Banks” once again offers insight on Professional Reliance “Many have questioned whether fisheries science- in particular its forecast models- can rightly be considered science at all” (page 32).

I am in the process of writing a newsletter that centers on the immediate next step to rebuild wildlife populations. Maybe it’s the impossible dream but we desperately need a few voices to publically announce wildlife populations in BC will not start to recover until there is a dramatic reduction in hunting opportunity and bag limits.

Ideally that journey starts with a few provincial politicians.   Barry Brandow Sr.

NEWSLETTER September 1, 2017

To tell the story that describes the sorry state of water management on the Gilpin Ungulate Winter Range I am sending you a combination of current and past pictures in the Overton Creek watershed, immediately north of Grand Forks.

The dug out pictures past and present beg the question-Why are cows allowed to destroy a water source at a time in our province’s history when water quality and quantity are extremely important to society?

The dugout pictures are in the Overton Creek watershed pasture immediately north of Grand Forks is called Dead Horse. The period of use in theory is May 7- May 21 but cows are allowed to use this pasture May 7 to the end of October.

The Mehmal ranching family owns three district lots totaling 464 acres that are south of Nature Trust’s 174 acres in the Overton Creek watershed and 301 acres in the Morrissey Creek watershed. The Mehmal and Nature Trust Land was never fenced.

The key to both the Dead Horse pasture and the Valentine pasture east of Overton Creek in the Morrissey Creek watershed is Nature Trust land which is a dismal example of range management and an insulting contradiction of why the land was purchased. The pictures I have sent and will continue to send of the 6 ½ acre cow exclosure in Dead Horse pasture tells the story.

Dugout Indictment

Water sample CARO Environmental Services Kelowna June 15, 2007

Dugout Overton/Morrissey Link Road– Total coli forms- 110,000

  • E-Coli-    110,000

Any drinking water source or well with general or E-coli coli forms is considered unsuitable for human use. – www.boundaryalliance.org

Rangeland Handbook for B.C. December 1998 British Columbia Cattlemen’s Association

P.163- The protection of soil and water resources must never be sacrificed for other goals.

  1. 97- Research has shown that cattle having access to good quality water gained 0.5 KG per day while those that watered from a small pond contaminated with urine and feces lost 0.1 KG per day.

The reason why the fence at the east end of Lost Lake Marsh was moved this past spring is well made by the pictures.

Strategically would cow fencing exclosures on Nature Trust land and the Lost Lake Marsh which need to be enlarged connect to the journey that Minister of Environment, George Heyman was mandated to persue by NDP Premier, John Horgan: “Enact an endangered species law and harmonize other laws to ensure they are all working towards the goal of protecting our beautiful province”.

Barry Brandow Sr.

NEWSLETTER August 1, 2017

The Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Doug Donaldson is on record with the media “That the possession of a grizzly hide, skull and claws will be prohibited after November 30, 2017”.

As always there are two stories with wildlife management; tactical and strategic, the small versus the large picture.

The tactical story assumes that less harvesting of grizzly bears will result in a larger population and therefore British Columbians who are concerned with the future of the grizzly can rest assured that the NDP Provincial Government has successfully addressed the issue.

The strategic story centers on the argument that the closure of the grizzly bear hunt will make it harder to address serious problems: lack of wildlife corridors, implementing credible access management and challenging harmful logging practices.

Once the anger and disappointment of concerned British Columbians dissipates, as it will in the immediate future, then marshalling the political will and financial resources needed to address these problems will likewise dissipate.

The ideal solution is ultra conservative hunting that feeds on the public anger and disappointment to continue the endless habitat management fight!

GOOGLE Yellowstone Yukon Large Mammal Wildlife Corridor and you will witness the work of concerned biologists dealing with large and small problems that demand attention if there is a future for these animals on the North American Continent.

Access management in our province is a pathetic story!

The scientific benchmark for access management is well advertised and explained by the following quote:”in order to maintain a naturally functioning landscape with sustained populations of large mammals, road density must be below 0.6 KM/KM squared.”

Road density thresholds have been identified for several species and when exceeded, many species cannot persist. Closure and removal of roads has been found to effectively provide wildlife security and increase the amount of available wildlife habitat” Wild lands CPR- How many is too many: A Review of Road Density Thresholds for wildlife (no date)

The Political Reality and why anger and disappointment with an ultra conservative grizzly bear hunting season has a place on the BC landscape is well explained in an April 2015 Forest Practices Board report, Access Management and Resource Roads: 2015 Update

Strategic Management

There is currently no agency charged with conducting access planning. There are virtually no proactive legal tools for setting access objectives. There is no legal requirement to notify the public about changes in access. Government provides encouragement to undertake local planning solutions, but offers virtually no support. There are no formal mechanisms for resolving access conflicts and there is little motivation for stakeholders to compromise. The result is that access decisions can become politicized. The board notes that the proposed Natural Resource Roads Act is not intended to solve these strategic access management issues.

Operational Management

Solving these problems through development of a single comprehensive piece of legislation has been the “holy grail” of resource road management for over two decades- the current version of this legislation (the Natural Resource Roads Act) has been under development since 2011.

Impacts of logging on Grizzly Bears is well known and explained in “Conservation of Grizzly Bears in British Columbia, Background Report May 1995”

BC Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks

Page 40 Logging confers some short term benefits on grizzlies in some areas, such as in the growth of berry- producing plants and other bear foods on clear cuts especially in the moist wet sites. Most of the benefits associated with timber harvesting are negated by the intensive land use and management that follows. Probably the biggest impacts on grizzlies from forest harvesting result from the fragmentation, disruption and alienation of their habitats; the increased presence of humans and domestic livestock that result with access; and human intolerance for bears.

There is an abundance of information forecasting tactics and strategy that implemented would assure a future for the grizzly bear in BC but the political will to do so is consistently challenged by the political imperative of most politicians, successful election campaigns.

Politicians who do champion responsible environmental management on BC mountains are going to be squaring off with politicians who promote jobs ie. the BC Liberal agenda which was highly successful in most rural BC ridings.

I am going to send you pictures that showcase the agony of the Gilpin Grasslands. Water management in rural BC is grim, a point made by many pictures and a reminder that when a critical resource gets no respect then in reality there are no surprises.

Fred Marshall, who lives in the Kerr Creek watershed near Midway, forwarded an email he received from Aaron Reid, a provincial Government Biologist from Nelson who is concerned with a probable Blue Tongue outbreak in whitetail deer.

Last November in a conversation with Colville, Washington Senior biologist, Dana Base, he thought 2000-3000 whitetail had succumbed to Blue Tongue in his management area.

The whitetail in the Hardy Mt. watershed north of Grand Forks had a Blue Tongue die-off a few years ago. Sad when you consider the whitetail, like most big game species in our province, have been ruthlessly exploited resulting in a whitetail population a shadow of a responsible management program.

I seldom respond to your encouraging e-mails, nevertheless I appreciate everyone.

Barry Brandow Sr.

 

NEWSLETTER July 1, 2017

The May 9, 2017 BC provincial election results were dramatically different than the results predicted by the pundits, the deep thinkers in the media.

Can a NDP Government of 41 members supported by 3 Green Party Members opposed by 43 BC Liberals survive long enough to start a healing process on our mountains that embraces democratic process that will examine in depth the negative side of every stakeholder’s behavior that is a challenge to the future of the province’s wildlife resource?

Civil debate conveniently ignores the real problems and therefore the TERMS of REFERENCE typically have no intention of casting a shadow over third rate behavior of stakeholders, bureaucrats and our political masters.

That point is made by Rob Clark whose memoirs of his 30 year career as an officer of Corrections Service Canada, Down Inside says it all: “I have no idea what lies in store for the Correctional Service of Canada.  Although I would like to believe that significant positive changes are possible, I have my doubts. The culture of this organization is so deeply entrenched and so pervasive that I remain skeptical of its capacity for genuine introspection”.

Wildlife management must be the mandate of the Ministry of Environment and the minister has to be a warrior who will not be ignored by cabinet colleagues contrary to our sorry history of treating the wildlife resource as chattel goods. (an item or article of goods)

Whatever our destiny democratic process is imperative, no walls every stakeholder who values the province’s wildlife resource has a right to participate. A Roundtable cannot be driven by consensus or failure will be immediate.

The immediate problem is to make it clear to every 87 MLA- Member of our Legislative Assembly in Victoria and their rabid supporter’s to-day and in the future that democratic process is not expensive. The fight for freedom on the other hand is mighty expensive, point made by the fact that well over 100,000 young Canadian men and more than a few women while members of our Canadian Armed Forces paid the ultimate price for the ultimate principle in a democratic society-FREEDOM.

Do your homework and you will find 66,000 plus died in the Great War 1914-1918 and 45,000 plus in the Second World War 1939-1945. The kicker- the day our heroes crossed the Bar they didn’t take counsel from their fear.

A good story to remember when you are at a crossroad in your journey!

I have been involved in three processes, two were blessed with Chairman of Measure the third was a dismal affair not a surprise when you consider Range Staff had no qualifications to chair meetings, a problem exacerbated by their rejoinder that consensus was the game.

The Okanagan/Boundary Region 8 Wildlife Advisory chaired by Dr. John Gibson and the 1992-94 West Kootenay/Boundary Commission on Resources and Environment Roundtable chaired by Bruce Fraser is a reminder that the chair is by far and away the most important figure overseeing public process.

The Okanagan/Boundary Wildlife Advisory collapsed in 1988 when the Okanagan B.C. Wildlife Federation Clubs walked away because of a Limited Eatery Hunt on the whitetail doe. A classic example of the Shifting Baseline Syndrome when you consider the endless demands of BC Wildlife Federation Clubs for more Hunting Opportunity.

Although the Rancher/Agrologist Co-Ordinated Resource Management Process was doomed to a short shelf life, a point made by declining public participation, the minutes from the Overton/Moody CRMP meetings (the bookend watersheds of Gilpin) are a reminder that even a third rate process has merit because you get to know the players and issues.

Terms of Reference the backbone of process that will direct the Chair where he/she can go and still get support from the provincial government of the day will have trouble accepting my vision i.e. a thorough review of the firewall used by every stakeholder to justify their behavior.

Should we be blessed with a democratic process I would preface meetings with President Ronald Regan’s popular quote; “Trust but Verify a product of negotiating a reduction of nuclear warhead missiles with Michail Gorbachev”.

I would also remind stakeholders of a message in of all places; “Range Management Handbook for British Columbia” edited by Dr. Alastair McLean 1979:

The importance of wildlife in the province is difficult to assess since it must be measured not only in direct economic terms but also in the well being of the citizens through recreation and quiet enjoyment.”

Recreation and quiet enjoyment is certainly not what it was a generation ago- you can travel for days in the East Boundary; Greenwood, Grand Forks and Christina Lake and other than bighorns adjacent to Highway #3 east of Grand Forks and the odd bear or deer on private property, quiet enjoyment in any serious way is a phenomenon of the past. A serious indictment of every politician, bureaucrat and stakeholder who has their sorry foot print on the Hunting Opportunity Agenda.

Dr. McLean’s vision of cows on Ungulate Winter Ranges is polar opposite and the backdrop critiquing the ugly Gilpin Grassland Saga.

How does a credible process deal with the major wildlife management issues without indicting stakeholders?

 

 

Wildlife Management

  1. The Sightability Index used by our provincial government biologists has no connection to reality in many British Columbia Ungulate Species Regional Population Estimates and Status Preseason Hunting 2011 and 2014.

 

The mule and whitetail pop. Estimates for Region 8 Okanagan/Boundary are over the top. Preseason 2011 and 2014- mule deer 28,000-42,000- pop. Stable

-whitetail    31,000-44,000- pop. Stable

 

Preseason 2017 ungulate estimates will be available soon.

 

I have two Freedom of Information packages that offer insight to Ungulate Population Estimates in Region 4 and 8. Tactically the work appears square-up but regional population estimates cast a dark shadow over the whole exercise for large ungulate populations.

 

To spike your curiosity I will send you a few pages that introduce you to the game: Naïve Extrapolated, sightability-corrected estimate, 90% confidence interval, density-deer per km, Sightability Correction Factor. I will also send you preseason ungulate population estima

Should you be bold or have a statistical expert contact to help us unravel the mystery of how some estimates have no connection to reality let us know and we will forward the Freedom of Information attachment.

Will it be a hopeless peeing contest paying qualified academics to critique what is quite frankly, pathetic dribble?

 

  1. Hunting Opportunity Agenda

 

The Hunting Opportunity Agenda dramatically increased the political footprint on our mountains and conveniently ignored our sorry history of long hunting seasons and generous bag limits; a point made by the collapse of the critical mass of the mule deer in the late fifties and early sixties in Region 8 Okanagan/Boundary. They were never seen again in groups of 30-40.

 

“Thus, the over-all mule deer population in MU 8 has probably experienced a slow decline during the last several decades”. The Boundary Deer Herd by D.J.Spalding-1968

 

Weak wildlife management started its steep descent with the 1996 Glen Clark NDP Government which demanded more money from the province’s wildlife resource followed by the BC Liberal Government.

 

A few years ago trying to connect with former Director of Wildlife, Jim Walker because he was a Director on the Nature Trust Board, my wife found a letter written by Jim in which he made the point that the NDP Glen Clark Government wanted more money from wildlife. When we finally connected he aptly described the BC Liberal Government-“they don’t care”.

 

Sadly he just crossed the BAR but he did leave a mesage for his former Nature Truct colleagues.

 

“However as public appreciation of nature continues to erode, it is important we and  our conservation partners refocus our direction and make it a priority to educate the urban majority about our lands and the values they represent. It is not enough to acquire land alone.”

 

I will sign off and continue a deep examination of Hunting Opportunity in the near future by highlighting the major seasons for the downward spiral of mule, whitetail and black bear populations in the Boundary, our backyard.

 

I will also send you pictures as an aid in explaining the Ranchers/Range Staff Firewall- Biodiversity and Pre-conditioning and describe how one of the first and finest Wildlife/Grassland initiatives lost every fight to the cow- the 1470 acres Ed Boothman Ranch purchase August 17, 1972 and the purchase of 475 acres by the 2nd Century Fund of BC renamed Nature Trust in 1984.

 

Barry Brandow Sr.

 

 

NEWSLETTER May 5, 2017

The pictures I am sending you represent a serious ongoing problem with dirt bikes on private and crown land in the grassland ecosystem.

The backdrop to the problem is twofold: the lack of any meaningful evidence that the Conservation Service and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources enforcement personnel are trying to address the problem; the wealth of information advocating responsible access management on the Overton/Moody Range Unit i.e. the Gilpin Grasslands totally ignored.

Overton/Moody Coordinated Resource Management Plan

Jan. 26, 1978- Grand Forks Ranger Station.

   The Overton/Moody Unit is recognized as one of the few most important ungulate winter ranges in the Boundary area. Green Belt purchases provide vivid testimonials to this fact. The value of the wildlife resource is rated high for both consumptive and non-consumptive users.

  • Road access in the planned area should not be increased
  • -More restrictive options such as road closures may be required if proliferation of access results from the transmission line construction.

District Grasslands are Sensitive Ecosystems August 31, 1994

The Boundary Forest Service with co-operation from local Conservation Officers is seeking cooperation from the public travelling on open grassland hillsides in the district. These ecosystems are valuable habitat and food source for wildlife and range cattle and can be easily destroyed by vehicles.

To Mr. Glen Thompson, District Manager Ministry of Forests, Grand Forks, Dec. 18, 1998 from Les Molner, District Habitat Officer Boundary Forest District

File: Overton-Moody Motor Vehicle Prohibition Regs. (Proposal)

It is our Ministry’s Position that unregulated use of motor vehicles within this area is a threat to habitat and species of concern. The spread of noxious weeds and direct loss of habitat with the myriad of trails, ruts and non-status roads over many years has created a degraded environment for wildlife.

A sign approximately 1 KM north of the Government’s Agent Office in Grand Forks, the location of the Conservation Officer Service was erected April 15, 1992 “by the forest service and asking grassland users to keep to established roads is just one of the measures being taken to save the Overton-Moody grasslands from all terrain and four wheel drive damage”.

I had conservation with a Conservation Officer from Castlegar and asked him if he could arrange a field trip with a young energetic CO and describe/explain what could and should be done to challenge what is literally a free pass for quad and dirt bike stake holders to make their own rules.

At a Jan. 26, 1984 Overton./Moody CRMP meeting the bookends of the Gilpin Grasslands the following quote by rancher, John Mehmal is a lead into a much bigger story that connects with former owner of Advance Orchards, a nursery east of town and on the south side of Highway #3, Garfield Marshall.”John Mehmal recommended that access should be cut and restricted use by the public would contain the knapweed expansion”

Even though we had a civil relationship, Garfield liked to remind me that as long as he lived in Grand Forks “there will be no changes to the management regime on the Gilpin Grasslands as long as I live in Grand Forks”. Bill Barisoff, our former MLA took Garfield’s message to then Minister of Forest and Range, Rich Coleman.

During the 2008 Wildlife Management Area proposal process in Grand Forks the new Quad Bike Club stridently and crudely demanded the process be terminated because most participants at a poorly attended meeting feared responsible access management would challenge their Charter of Freedom rights to use every single road. Garfield was their “go to guy” to send the Quad Bike Club and Mehmal Ranch message to the BC Liberal Cabinet of the day.

The upshot of the pathetic ongoing example of citizenship, the Mehmal family now remains silent and does not complain to the significant damage done to their property which accordingly to recent Tax Assessments totals 414.97 acres in three District Lots because the Quad Bike Club is their big ally in challenging a Wildlife Management Area Designation.

Fred Marshall, a professional Forester and I agreed that we would decide in the near future on a date for a field trip on Gilpin to critique the current logging in the Interior/Douglas Fir Zone. I will subsequently send the necessary information for those interested.

There will be a meeting May 10th 6:30-9:30 PM at Selkirk College to discuss quotes from Freedom of Information letters to strengthen the argument for the removal of cows from the Class A Gilpin Grassland Provincial Park and a Wildlife Management Area Designation for the three bioclimatic Zones that compromise the Gilpin Ungulate Winter Range.

Remember most valleys in BC run north/south and when you have an east/west valley in southern BC like Gilpin you have significant south facing slopes critical to wintering ungulates and many other wildlife species large and small. There are plenty of places for quad/ dirt/ mountain bikes, logging, hunting, ranching but Gilpin’s south facing slopes are a special asset from our creator but to-day management is a metaphor for the greed and irresponsible behavior that dominates resource management.

Barry Brandow Sr.

NEWSLETTER April 1, 2017

News Release- The B.C. Liberal Government Natural Resource Operations announced it will form a new wildlife agency in late fall, 2017 backed by $5 million in start up fund and $10 million collected each year from hunting license revenues.

Is this the beginning of a long painful journey to rebuild wildlife populations that have collapsed in a magnitude not witnessed on the North American continent in the modern era of wildlife management or is the stand bearer approach to serious problems on the province’s land base- a little band-aid on a big wound?

B.C. Wildlife Federation Member Update December 28, 2016– The BCWF is extremely concerned that British Columbia’s wildlife resources are dwindling.

Carmen Purdy’s story a former BCWF president describing wildlife population declines in the East Kootenay, once a premier hunting area in the province, is a typical story from credible grey haired hunters.

Mule deer- 70% decline since brutal 96-97 winter

Elk-               70-80% decline

Moose-         90% decline, points finger at predators

Whitetail deer-dramatic decline

Bighorn Sheep- population down

Carmen agrees that liberalized hunting seasons and bag limits are a major problem.

Dave Fyfe, one of the major players in the Wildlife Stewardship Council (outfitters and First Nations) runs the numbers describing one Guide-Outfitter area after the other, as literally vacant of wildlife populations.

    Is there a solution? That debate starts with a political reality wake-up message. The number of hunters in the province is in the order of 100,000, 245 outfitting families plus 300 plus trappers in a B.C. population of 4.7 million.

Twice in the 80s Statistics Canada conducted studies on the Importance of Wildlife to Canadians; both studies concluded that 86% of British Columbians valued wildlife.

The current grizzly bear hunting debate is another reminder that a large percent of British Columbians care about the province’s wildlife resource.

The solution? How about a Quid Pro Quo moment by the BC Wildlife Federation- something for something? The BC Wildlife Federation has been the big push that aggressively championed the Hunting Opportunity Agenda that has resulted in an unprecedented collapse of many wildlife populations.

The BCWF should immediately apologize to the people of BC and admit that the political agenda of dramatically increasing hunting opportunity was a mistake and consequently hunting seasons and bag limits must be reduced NOW! As it is the next 10 years is going to be grim for the province’s wildlife resource. REMEMBER history teaches us many times that you cannot endlessly deny or suppress truth!

Then and only then would it be wise for the BCWF and their point man, Jese Zeeman to make his case: “We need to focus on directing dollars to managing the landscape for growth of wildlife populations. Okanagan Region BCWF- General Meeting December 3, 2016

Every stakeholder group has a firewall to protect their interests and wildlife managers make the point with the following quote found in Managing Wildlife to 2001- A Discussion Paper Oct. 31, 1991 page 2 “One result is that wildlife managers are forced daily, in the absence of good scientific information to make decisions based solely on experience and their best judgment. Those are essential ingredients but not enough. The outcome is that management has become much more conservative, with a real cost to wildlife users in terms of foregone opportunities.

The curse of BC politics is that Ministry of Environment which historically had the wildlife management file, was never respected by governments and consequently there was no political will to fund a ministry that by virtue of their mandate would challenge policies of other ministries.

My point is made by the edict of technical money managers, THE TREND IS YOUR FRIEND. When a technical money manager is asked for advice on a stock he/she will connect the highs over a number of years and recommend you buy, sell or hold and remind you the trend is your friend.

If wildlife managers were to announce dramatic reduction in hunting opportunity driven by scientific information i.e. helicopter flights, this would be a red flag to the provincial government of the day to cut funding and staff and as a consequence wildlife managers best ensure that wildlife inventory tactics result in bloated wildlife population estimates that in the case of whitetail are a farce.

I have made a Freedom of Information request for the data used by Ungulate Specialist, Gerald Kuzk to conclude the province’s whitetail population was approximately 113,000 in 2014 and the mule deer population 160,000 in 2011.

If successful it will be another painful journey to find ACADEMICS who can punch a hole in those self serving wildlife inventory numbers. After all, our experts will want to talk to the authors of the data.

Will the results of the province’s provincial election May 9 give us hope that the winner will acknowledge the failure of the Current Hunting Advisory of Hunters, Trappers and Outfitters and announce implementation of a Round Table that will unabashedly embrace Transparency and Accountability?

A Roundtable will get you to 1st base but dramatically reducing hunting seasons and bag limits is going to spin around wildlife population estimates and where are those numbers coming from?

The wildlife habitat fight was fought and lost in the mid nineties a result of the West Kootenay/Boundary Commission on Resources and Environment recommended guidelines were totally ignored. The leverage of a roundtable that is inclusive of all stakeholders is the only hope to get the attention of government. In the back ground there is plenty of noise that will be a distraction at a roundtable when you consider extremely few participants know squat about wildlife: trophy, meat, grizzly hunting.

A recent story in the Vancouver Sun put a different spin on sustainable wildlife management. The Northern Newfoundland/Labrador cod have come back and if the estimated population of 300,000 tons continues to grow to 1,000,000 tons then in the future the interest on the principle can be harvested.

The interest on the mule deer principle was spent a generation ago and as a consequence the mule deer debate will be one of the better examples that will demonstrate the measure of stakeholders at a Roundtable.

Every credible veteran BC hunter capable of reasoned thought who has witnessed the endless irresponsible management of the province’s wildlife resource will agree that the only hope for change is leadership from First Nations. If you are an ardent hunter you will hear First Nations John Henderson’s message-Respect wildlife-At this point in his journey his message is reduce hunting seasons and bag limits.

I am going to change gears and strengthen my argument for the removal of cows from the Class A Gilpin Grassland Provincial Park, removal of cows from Nature Trust 475 acres and a Wildlife Management Area designation.

In a few days I am going to send you a mixture of pictures that tell different stories that describe management on the Gilpin grasslands.

Barry Brandow Sr.

NEWSLETTER March 1, 2017

The pictures I am sending you of current logging on the Gilpin ungulate winter range are representative of an approximate 15km ark in three watersheds: Gilpin, Dan’Rae and Morrissey all of which cross Highway #3.

Remember the Gilpin Grasslands or Gilpin are located north of Highway #3 between Grand Forks and Christina Lake or more accurately Highway # 395 the highway to Spokane, Washington .

I am not up to speed on an accurate description of the legitimate grievance package that must be brought forward to challenge current Ungulate Winter Range Guidelines (UWR). To that end I have made arrangements with Fred Marshall, a professional forester to lead a field trip probably late April or early May.

I will also ask Brian Horejsi, Greg Utzig and Tim Coleman from Washington State to participate. I am a fanatical believer in transparency so everyone will be welcome. Yes, I will ask Les Johnson to film the event.

The following information is an appropriate start for any discussion in the province that demands more respect for ungulate winter ranges (UWR) and the significant number of animals large and small that need responsible (UWR) management to survive.

Ungulate winter ranges comprise three bioclimatic zones; Interior Douglas fir (IDF) ponderosa pine (pp) and grassland. So when I use the term Gilpin grasslands please remember there are three bioclimatic zones.

Kootenay Boundary Land Use Plan Oct. 1994

Ungulate Winter Ranges are low elevation winter habitats that are used by most ungulates during the late fall and winter months when deep snow accumulations restrict accessibility to other habitats. During this period the animals concentrate in high densities over a limited area and are totally dependent on the quality and quantity of the habitat for survival.

Essential ungulate winter habitat requirements include an appropriate combination of forage areas for feeding and forested areas for provision of snow interception, thermal cover and security cover.

The Boundary Deer Herd D.J.  Spalding 1968

The Boundary or Management Unit 8 of southern B.C. comprises 31,800 square miles lying between Okanagan Lake to the west and the Arrow Lakes to the east.

    The Boundary must be considered as one of the best mule deer and white-tail deer areas of the province. Precipitation is generally less than 20” annually.

The most important zone for wintering deer is the Interior Douglas Fir (IDF) with its associated understory of waxberry, kinnikinnik, mallow nine bark, Saskatoon berry, snowbush, red stem ceanothus, soopolallie and silver berry, squaw current, sumac, mock orange, willow and red osier dogwood.

The small areas of yellow pine (pp) and grasslands are important to deer herds in the spring.

British Columbia Order-Ungulate Winter Range #U-8-008 is a B.C. Liberal policy statement advertised in the Jan. 31, 2001 Kootenay-Boundary Higher Level Plan Order.

“The Kootenay-Boundary Higher Level Plan Order is being revised to reflect the required balance of social, economic and environmental values and is consistent with a request by the citizens of the Kootenay-Boundary Region.”

Had you sat at the table of 22 stakeholders during the 1993-94 Harcourt NDP West Kootenay Boundary Commission on Resources and Environment, then you would be fully aware that “a request by citizens” is a pathetic euphemism for private sector lumber, logging and mining interests.

The primary forest manufacturers hired former NDP MLA Chris D’Arcy to represent their interests and Chris’ response to Chair Bruce Fraser’s request for consensus on Protected Areas never changed-NO,NO,NO! Bruce’s performance as chair of the West Kootenay/Boundary CORE was remarkable considering the consistent bad feelings generously on display at meetings.

John Murray represented miners and his dower message never changed- minerals are where you find them-no parks.

The independent logger whose name I conveniently forgot put on a consistent nasty performance directed at a government who had the nerve to create parks contrary to the interests of his colleagues.

Dave Jukes the Pope & Talbot representative stood up and bellowed like a cut steer when the table was discussing what is now the Granby Wilderness Class A Provincial Park. Pope & Talbot quickly built a road adjacent to the NW corner of the park in the Goatskin Watershed.

A request by citizens  -Not Hardly!

    The NDP Kootenay/Boundary Land Use Plan was a result of a thoughtful educational approach to the management of our natural resources a point made by the legions of information given to the 22 stakeholders. The best way to make my point is to send you the two page copy of Ungulate Winter Range #U-8-008 and a representative table of facts that the NDP approach endorsed as essential parts of responsible management decisions.

There is plenty of information to share with you in the immediate future that will underscore why the Interfor Corporate logging agenda in the Interior Douglas Fir Zone adjacent to the Gilpin Grasslands must not go unchallenged.

The best source of information to put the next chapter in focus starts with a review of pertinent facts found in British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Boundary Timber Supply Rationale for Allowable Annual Cut, Effective January 1, 2002 ,Larry Pedersen Chief Forester.

 Please note: Penticton provincial biologist, Rick McLean will be the guest speaker at the Rock Creek Wildlife Hall March 24 at 7PM to discuss whitetail/mule deer management. Yes it will be a civil meeting so if you care about wildlife and are within a reasonable driving distance, please attend!    Barry Brandow Sr.