In view of the ongoing bitter disappointment of hunters and concerned citizens with the sorry state of wildlife management in BC I offer my thoughts and questions to ask the Minister and his staff should you have the opportunity. You will have little time and there will be little appetite to admit failure.
Hunting seasons and bag limits are driven by population estimates which are crude and in many cases have no connection to reality because indirect population inventory tactics dominate the question at the expense of the only important direct tactic-helicopter flights.
Across North America wildlife agencies do not have enough funding and staff to obtain adequate inventory information on populations and habitats- the cornerstone of all wildlife management programs.-British Columbia’s Environment –Planning for the future-Managing Wildlife to 2001- A Discussion Paper page 2
A strategy to Help Restore Moose Populations in British Columbia (July 8, 2016– Al Gorley Part 4-Information pages 27-28) Recommendations- Prepared for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. Fish & Wildlife Branch.
Recommendation– Immediately accelerate and stabilize investments to update and improve inventories and monitoring programs for moose.
Reasons: Staff has indicated that the formal information on moose numbers is outdated in some areas. Many First Nations and Stakeholders are very critical of the situation.
The capacity exists to do more if the funding is available. For example more regular aerial surveys over a broader geographic area.
Provincial population estimates are determined every three to five years using a combination of survey data and expert opinion.
Excuse me, there is no expert opinion because the only honest conclusion is that many ungulate population estimates are crude and irresponsible a point easily made if you read White-tailed Deer: A Review of the 2010 Provincially Co-ordinated Hunting Regulation which you can find on the Ministry of Lands, Forests and Natural Resource’s Website.
Expert opinion from our biologist has resulted in the following statistics: Estimated abundance of white-tailed deer in BC increased from about 40,000 in 1987 to over 113,000 in 2011 (p.1) then on page 2 admit to limited population surveys.
The following information although a small example, clearly underscores my point that there are no experts in population estimates in B.C.
I have road kill deer carcasses retrieved between 1978 and 2014 between Osoyoos and Christina Lake on Highway #3. The information is from former Penticton Biologist, Al Peatt and Leonard Sielecki-Wildlife and Environment Issues Specialist BC ministry of transportation and Infrastructure. The highest road kill was 275 in 1989 and the lowest 74 in 2013 a significant decline when you factor the dramatic increase in highway traffic since 1989 especially trucks. I suspect at least a double in traffic. Please note I am using the above statistics for the single purpose of demonstrating the deer population trend!
The following quotes from a Corporation of the City of Grand Forks letter reinforces the argument that the whitetail deer has no future in our province until the people of BC demand a wildlife management agenda that embraces transparency and accountability.
I was a member of the Grand Forks Deer Committee so the letter was either 2013 or 2014.
Page 2 The province has also taken the stance that as it is generally accepted in the scientific literature that hunting is not effective in controlling white-tailed deer numbers, white-tailed deer will not be closely monitored through population surveys.
Recommendations for moving forward:
- It is suggested in the literature that population size is dictated by food availability rather than being limited by predation. Develop strategies to reduce available food sources. (the domestic cow does exactly that on winter ranges)
- 8. Ensure that data used for management decisions (especially highly controversial topics) are researched fully (i.e. review the original scientific article rather than depending only on summarized version to ensure accuracy of the information and that the relevant information has not been taken out of context) and are specifically relevant to the Grand Forks area.
Although the information is on the City of Grand Forks stationery the letter represents the attitude of cold calculated biologists who have sold their soul for a job.
B.C.Outdoors- Special Hunting Issue 2016-2017 BC Hunting Forecast– story by Brian Harris, recently retired provincial government biologist Region 8 Okanagan-Boundary page 25
- mule deer are doing well in this region and hunter harvest continues to climb.
- white-tailed deer are also doing well At the Dec.1 meeting with NDP MLA at Rock Creek the audience agreed that both statements were bold face lies.
I prepared two reports for the Rock Creek meeting but did not distribute the information. Most hunters are concerned with the sorry state of wildlife management but have little interest in the facts imperative to hold the minister and his staff to full account.
I will send you the information on population estimates, much of the info is a repeat of facts in a previous newsletter but you must get the last word when talking to our servants- politicians and bureaucrats.
Liberalized hunting- long hunting seasons and generous bag limits are a major reason for a dramatic decline in many BC wildlife populations so what is the question to ask the minister and his staff whether its Members Opposite during Budget Estimates or any other occasion.
Please note; I screwed up there will be no Budget Estimates this spring. The writ will be dropped April 11 and we will have a new provincial government May 9.
A suggestion that will give you a starting point to add or delete an important message.
Minister your government has agreed to act on all 21 recommendations in Forester Al Gorley’s report Strategy to Help Restore Moose Populations in B.C. July 2016 and wildlife inventory populations are the cornerstone of all wildlife management programs and many wildlife populations have been overstated because indirect population tactics which will only give a crude population estimate has been allowed to dominate the debate therefore will you acknowledge the problem by a commitment to support and fund a dramatic increase in helicopter surveys?
Minister, remember your message on the top left hand corner of page 2 of the 2016-2018 Hunting and Trapping regulation Synopsis. “Trappers, resident hunters add some 350 million dollars to the economy each year, add wildlife viewing and the economic contribution is at least $400 million.
I believe the Minister will agree to support more helicopter flights and based on past experience I believe his staff will share the helicopter info with the public.
Will there be a significant decrease in hunting seasons and bag limits? Absolutely not! I have a story to tell you in the near future that explains how the game is played. That story explains how one of the first and finest wildlife grassland initiatives in BC history came to nothing- the Socred government purchase of the 1470 acre Ed Boothman Ranch Aug. 17, 1972 for $190,000.00
The next chapter: I am going to send you pictures very soon of current logging practices in the interior Douglas fir zone-the most important zone for wintering deer adjacent to the Gilpin Grasslands.
Barry Brandow Sr.