I am sending you four pages of information from the State of Washington-2014 Game Status and Trend Report that represents a quick study on deer management in Washington State.
The information is a consequence of a long phone conversation with Dana Base, the senior biologist for the NE corner of Washington State. Our conversation centered on population inventory and when Dana made the point that his colleagues had counted 3000 deer in the Methow Valley I instantly asked what the population estimate was. He chuckled “we don’t do that”.
The Methow Valley is approximately 60 miles south of Osoyoos and runs NW/SE.
Senior biologist, Scott Fitkin and his partner Jeff Heinlen manage 11 Game Management Units in Region 2 North Okanagan; four GMUs touch the International Border.
Forevermore remember Scott Fitkin’s words when describing wildlife inventory-“preliminary calculations suggest any estimates produced will have extremely wide confidence intervals”.
Washington State does road deer counts and every hunter is expected to go on-line and complete a hunter harvest survey. Those who do not are fined a nominal fee when they renew their yearly hunting license.
In my conversation with Scott he stressed the importance of access management. I reminded him of the quote on page 95 of the current Washington State 2015 Big Game Hunting Seasons and Regulations ”Roads have been closed to vehicular traffic in over 65 areas providing over a million acres of relatively undisturbed prime hunting habitat”.
Access Management is only possible if there is a budget that will provide the necessary money and that is certainly the case in Washington State.
Prior to my conversation with Scott I had a phone conversation with John Buckley who is the Licensing-Revenue and Statistics Supervisor in the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and received the following information on Recreational License Sales July 1,2014- June 30, 2015:
Total Hunting License Revenue –Big Game = $14,729,482.
Total Hunting License Revenue-Small Game = $2,845,507
Total Hunting License Raffles Revenue = $ 233,500.
Total Hunting Revenue July 1, 2014-June 30, 2015 = $17,808,489.
John Buckley and colleague Craig Bartlett connected to the Public Affairs Office confirmed that all the revenue collected from the sale of hunting licenses (firearm and species licenses) is committed to the funding of the wildlife management file.
Scott Fitkin made it very clear that “we have enough money” after he made the point that the Pitman Robertson Act which directs tax money from the sale of guns and ammunition to the State wildlife management program from which the tax is collected.
Although Canadians will never have a love affair with guns in league with Americans why does Canada not have similar legislation?
The last paragraph in Scott Fitkin’s four page report on deer management in North Okanagan describes a sensitive approach to dealing with complaint ungulates once again-polar opposite to BC.
If you care about the future of the province’s wildlife resource save the information as a good reference point if you understand the measure of B.C. Liberal MLA, Mike Morris’ concluding statement in his August 2015 report: Getting the Balance Right. Improving Wildlife Habitat Management in British Columbia. There is an urgency and heightened concern amongst resident hunters, guide outfitters, trappers, the wildlife viewing industry and conservationists that the province is not acting quickly enough to address the decrease in wildlife populations and degradation of wildlife habitat.
It was my original intention to send you a newsletter every two months but the sorry state of management on our mountains especially the Gilpin Grasslands and adjacent forest is grim so I will send you pictures and information that make my point.
Barry Brandow Sr.
Here is the Washington report: CCF03072016
Here is the Alberta report:
Wildlife Inventory Alberta
Important quotes from 1989 Management Plan for Mule Deer in Alberta and 1986 Management Plan for White-tailed Deer in Alberta
Introduction page 1 White-tail Deer and Mule Deer
“The wildlife policy stated that the government is to ensure that wildlife populations are protected from severe decline, that viable populations are maintained and that the wildlife resource is passed on to future generations as it was received”
Quotes from Both reports are the same with few exceptions.
- Page 12 population estimates were hampered by problems associated with collection and interpretation of survey data.
- Page 24 In Alberta there is not enough staff to obtain sufficient information through widespread use of indirect indices to estimate whitetail population.
- Page 100- Population inventory involves direct methods where the deer are actually observed (e.g. aerial survey) and indirect methods (e.g. jaw collection, harvest questionnaires. Direct Methods-can provide all the necessary population information. Indirect methods-can provide information on distribution and age/sex ratios but only crude estimates of population size.
- Page 101- In the identified high priority WMUs the survey should be flown biannually (using a helicopter) with sampling of a sufficient intensity to produce a population estimate accurate to the plus or minus 20 percent level of precision.
- Page 59- Current surveys are designed at a sampling intensity that will provide population estimates for the WMU at a precision level of plus or minus 30 percent.
Alberta Mule Deer Management Plan 1989
Introduction Mule Deer
“The wildlife policy stated that the government is to ensure that wildlife populations are protected from severe decline, that viable populations are maintained and that the wildlife resource is passed on to future generations as it was received”.
- Page 24 Harvest– before mid 1950s the question of population size was based on isolated counts and the subjective assessment of many people including farmers, forestry staff and game wardens.
- Page 63-population estimate-current surveys will provide population estimates at a precision level of plus or minus 30 percent.
- There are many techniques available for deer population inventories such as track counts, pellet counts, browse surveys, night-lighting, road side counts, aerial surveys and extrapolation of hunter harvest data. All methods have good points and drawbacks. The technique that comes closest to meeting our needs in Alberta is the aerial survey.
- Page 102-population inventory-indirect methods are limited.
- Page 103- aerial surveys are the only practical direct population inventory method to use in Alberta.