South Okanagan Similkameen Bighorn Sheep Project
The emergence of psoroptic mange in British Columbia is a significant conservation concern for wild sheep. Limited opportunity for direct intervention in Psoroptes disease outbreaks has focused regional, provincial, and international attention on this management challenge. Current work is focused on assessing: the risk of Psoroptes transmission among South Okanagan Similkameen (SOKS) bighorn sheep herds; the prevalence of disease within and among herds; annual lamb recruitment; and adult mortality. These data will help to evaluate the influence of psoroptic mange on Similkameen bighorns and inform development of management actions for declining herds.
Williston Lake Trout Project
Sustaining and promoting a trophy lake trout fishery in Williston Reservoir is a unique opportunity to meet conservation and tourism-related goals consistent with local community objectives and provincial government mandates. At its core the project is a research and monitoring program to support long-term sustainability of lake trout in Williston Reservoir. Our focus, however, is also on community development of the benefits this exceptional fishery offers local business, tourism, and recreation, and the support that we can provide for industry as regional development projects proceed.
Williston Site Use Monitoring
Boat launch facilities along Williston Reservoir are being improved as part of BC Hydro’s Peace Water Use Plan. This project is a 10-year monitoring program implemented to evaluate seasonal use of six boat launches before and after site improvements. The goal is to understand the effect of new facilities on the timing and frequency of recreational boating on Williston Reservoir. Project design also supports analysis of long-term trends in angling effort.
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Sulphur 8 Mile Stone’s Sheep Project
The Sulphur 8 Mile (S8M) Stone’s Sheep Project was a multi-stakeholder research and planning initiative that developed as a result of oil and gas pre-tenure plan requirements in the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area of northern British Columbia. The goal was to understand the potential impacts of resource development on Stone’s sheep populations, and identify management strategies for consideration in resource planning. Research focused on understanding Stone’s sheep population demographics and distribution, adult female survival and mortality patterns, habitat use patterns, and herd health.
Seabird Bycatch in Commercial Salmon Fisheries
Seabird entanglement in commercial fishing nets can be significant conservation issues. The Canadian Wildlife Service conducted an observational study of seabird counts and behaviour (flying versus floating) around commercial fishing vessels to identify factors that may correspond to increased risk of seabird entanglement in fishing nets. Our analysis investigated potential indicators of net entanglement risk for rhinoceros auklets (Cerorhinca monocerata), the most abundant seabird detected during at-sea transects along the BC coast. We used statistical models to qualitatively evaluate how patterns of association between auklet counts, behaviour, and environmental covariates changed in proximity to active fishing vessels, and assessed the influence of fishing parameters on auklet counts and behaviour. In the absence of direct counts of diving birds, we used statistical modeling techniques that allowed us to account for the expected presence of diving birds.
IN COLLABORATION WITH Dr. Heather Bears, Zoetica Wildlife Research Services Inc.
Wild Sheep Horn Growth and Harvest Regulations
In North America, most wild sheep harvest regulations restrict legal harvest to males with a specified minimum horn curl. Because reproductive success is skewed toward larger males that are socially dominant, harvest regulations that target large males may select against high-quality, fast-growing males. Given management alternatives, which harvest regulations are most effective in reducing the risk of artificial evolutionary changes in male bighorn sheep? We analyzed horn increment measures of males harvested over 28 years (1975 – 2003) in 2 bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) ecotypes in British Columbia, Canada, to evaluate potential selective effects of alternative management strategies (Full Curl, Three Quarter Curl, and Any Ram harvest regulations).
IN COLLABORATION WITH Dr. Marco Festa-Bianchet, Universite de Sherbrooke
Trial Tributary Enhancements: Site Selection and Design Recommendations
Normal reservoir operations have the potential to effectively disconnect tributaries from the reservoir and limit fish migration during the low water drawdown period, when streamflow into the reservoir may become shallow and braided across the exposed reservoir floodplain or large woody debris accumulates. This project builds on previous recommendations to develop an experimental mitigation trial using proven techniques to improve fish access to affected tributary systems. Mitigation trials were implemented by BC Hydro at two of the selected sites in spring 2014.
Ospika Mountain Goat Project
Collaborative research on mountain goats using valley-bottom mineral licks and trails in the Mackenzie Timber Supply Area of north-central British Columbia. Project components included an adaptive management trial, habitat supply modeling, population inventory, and habitat use data collection to verify and calibrate the models. The ultimate goal was to develop useful operational tools for quantitative assessment of disturbance impacts on mountain goats, and support adaptive management strategies in integrated resource planning.