Hank Shelley

Column: On moose, wolves and grizzly bears

Residents living along Cambie-Solsqua road, at Sicamous, including Stan Heitman, a top-notch marine mechanic, and avid hunter, enjoy a quiet lifestyle of small holdings and farms. Folks there are used to wildlife, including cougars, bears, and deer in the backyard. However, Stan’s property borders the Eagle River, and he has observed an increasing number of grizzly bears on the property, including the very large and small bruins trying to scavenge spawned out kokanee carcasses through lack of spawning salmon.

A young hunter friend had a LE H draw for a bull moose, so last week, up the mountain TFL/Queest/Owlhead they went. Lots of grizzly sign in the snow, including plentiful moose sign. Wolves had followed the moose. Returning a day later, all the moose had vanished (Scattered ?) downhill.

Two days later, in the same hunting areas, with increasing snow and cold, no trace of animals anywhere!

Many local hunter’s also report a lack of seeing game.

So what is taking place?

• Very large and increasing clear-cut logging blocks (In the Upper Adams, 15 new, right to sub-alpine). Increased access and road building.

• More hunters, many using ATV/4×4 into moose, deer, habitat.

• Very high and increasing number of grizzly and black bears. These animals prey on newborn calves and fawns.

• Climate change, effecting game/predator interactions. Also moving animals to northern climates, and the huge number of wildfires this past summer. No doubt, countless numbers of small and large animals lost their lives, while many populations moved to lower safe locations.

• Aboriginal harvest. This is significant. With a growing population of folks on many reserves, and fishing/hunting a culture, communal hunting of all game species, can take place spring, or fall, including night hunting.

• For regular hunting seasons, biologists, like the one in Kamloops, must integrate sound science and game management practices, satisfy hunters on open seasons, figure out recruitment of game animals. Whether there’s an increase or lower numbers of babies born, survival ratios or disease outbreaks. Each winter biologists gather to gather game population estimates. This using, current winter aerial surveys, census data, hunter question surveys. Putting hunters on a draw system, gives control to the hunters in the field, but at the cost of fewer hunters out there.

General seasons have no limit on licenses available, and with a increased numbers of hunters, for a given amount of game, biologists estimate there may be shortened seasons, the number of tags a hunter can hold, or the sex of the animal that can be taken.

Overall, each of us hunters, have an opinion on what is happening to our big game animals. Open seasons. Bag limits.

Biologists are trying to ensure healthy wildlife populations, while under extreme pressure from all user groups, and a more educated hunter out there to achieve a balance for all.

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