Every year I pray there is evidence that the statistical arguments that have resulted in increased hunting opportunity that is one of the major reasons why many wildlife populations in BC have collapsed, shows signs our wildlife managers and their political masters realize the magnitude of their failure to honor their statutory responsibility to ensure our wildlife resource is passed on to future generations as it was received!
I received a disturbing e-mail a few days ago from Fred Marshall recommending a dramatic increase in hunting opportunity of the whitetail doe in Region 8- Okanagan/Boundary. I urge all of you who care about the province’s wildlife resource to protest by demanding this outrageous statistical argument be immediately discarded.
The rationale for the increased harvest of the whitetail doe makes the point that “over 20 years of surveys in the Boundary Game Management Zone (GMZ) show stable or increasing numbers of whitetail deer”.
The reality is that wildlife population numbers are only accurate if a sightability index is used, in other words the animals are counted using aerial and ground surveys. If you extrapolate the numbers as our wildlife managers are doing then you are making a crude guess on animal populations that cannot be validated and have consistently ignored the weight of anecdotal evidence.
It is important that we find out who the author of this e-mail is because there is an alarming trend of the BC Wildlife Federation hiring retired provincial wildlife managers and biologists to speak for their interest of increasing hunting opportunity.
The current behavior of the BCWF has no connection to their past history, a point made by former Region 8 Biologist, Bob Lincoln in his Dec. 1987 report; Deer harvest management in the Okanagan: Past Results and Future Directions-“A prime concern of these Federation members is that the deer resource not be over-exploited. They have lobbied hard for very conservative harvests of deer”.
Remember it is the collective vision of a very small percentage of hunters and guides who have the knowledge and experience to validate population trends and that does not include wildlife managers or biologists with very few exceptions.
How is it possible to square up comments from two provincial biologists a generation apart?
Bob Lincoln’s quote in his Dec. 1987 report was valid then as it is to-day; “In the Okanagan where roads are abundant, suggesting a potential for localized over-harvest and where the 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”.
In a recent phone conversation Nelson provincial biologist, Aaron Reid made the point the province’s whitetail deer population has gone from 40,000 plus decades ago to 110,000 to-day. How many whitetail deer were actually counted versus extrapolation theory?
In the near future I will send you a newsletter that will shed more light on the cautionary approach to wildlife population estimates based on conversations with two Washington State biologists and important quotes from the State of Washington 2014 Game Status and Trend Report.
The letter will also include quotes from the Management Plan White-tailed Deer in Alberta.
The bottom line does not change-uncorroborated wildlife management theory is putting a hole in the province’s wildlife resource and the credibility of many wildlife managers and biologists.
Barry Brandow Sr.
Any intelligent discussion by British Columbians concerned with the current sorry state of wildlife management in BC to-day is well advised to remember the following comments found on page 100 of the Management Plan for White-tailed Deer in Alberta:
Population inventory involves direct methods where the deer are actually observed (eg. , aerial survey) and indirect methods ( eg., jaw collection, harvest questionnaires). Direct methods can provide all the necessary population information but are often impractical because of cost or poor visibility of animals in dense cover types. Indirect methods supplement direct methods or replace them in areas where direct methods are not feasible but their usefulness is limited. They can provide information on distribution and age/sex ratios but only crude estimates of population size.
Here is the link to a proposal for a regional deer bag limit increase: http://apps.nrs.gov.bc.ca/pub/ahte/hunting/regional-deer-bag-limit-increase