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An ongoing series of informational entries

July 2, 20​19

Officials are closing a lake in northern B.C. to recreational fishers due to an infestation of goldfish.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) announced the angling closure Thursday, as a part of a program to prevent the spread of the non-native species.

READ MORE: Goldfish threaten Yellow Lake ecosystem near Penticton

The ministry says the goldfish (Carassius auratus) were recently spotted in Lost Lake, about 1.1 kilometers from the Kitsumkalum River and about 10 kilometres north of Terrace.

The closure takes effect on Saturday, and will remain in place indefinitely.

WATCH: Fisherman reels in 20-pound ‘goldfish’ from Kentucky pond

“Goldfish introductions have had destructive effects in British Columbia. How long goldfish have been in Lost Lake is uncertain. However, multiple sizes of goldfish are evident, which suggests they are reproducing,” said the ministry in a bulletin.

“Biologists are completing assessments of the lake to determine the extent of the goldfish population. The biologists are developing management interventions and treatment options to prevent the goldfish from spreading into the Skeena watershed.”

READ MORE: Fisherman reels in massive 20-pound ‘goldfish’ from Kentucky pond

The Invasive Species Council of B.C. says goldfish compete with native fish for food, potentially threatening an ecosystem.

This isn’t the first time invasive goldfish have turned up in a B.C. lake.

WATCH: Goldfish pose threat to Yellow Lake ecosystem near Penticton

Back in 2017, the Ministry of Environment was called to Yellow Lake near Penticton due to an infestation of golfdfish.

They have previously been spotted in several other lakes throughout the interior.

FLNRO says releasing aquarium fish into the wild remains illegal, and is reminding the public to return any unwanted fish to pet stores rather than freeing them.

Anyone who spots invasive species is asked to call the ministry’s 24-hour Report all Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) hotline at 1 877 952-7277.


July 2, 2019

Info on CWD from the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters Conference

https://www.ofah.org/ccac/

July 2, 2019

https://vancouversun.com/opinion/columnists/elise-stolte-roundup-sprayed-through-alberta-forests-could-be-increasing-wildfire-risks/wcm/e075003c-18b6-4e65-a83f-04620dfd0ec3

Elise Stolte: Herbicide, killing of aspen likely shares blame for growing wildfire damage

Elise Stolte

Updated: June 28, 2019

Yes, climate change is real. But researchers say there’s another factor likely feeding the flames eating up Alberta’s forests.

The widespread practice of killing aspen trees, which forestry companies mechanically remove or spray with herbicide from helicopters, is also having an impact.

Aspen are the trees with white bark and small, fluttering green leaves that grow in clumps or colonies around Edmonton and through northern Alberta. They’re less likely to burn than spruce or pine and cool the forest so well that, when fully-leafed out, wildland firefighters flee to a stand of aspen if the fire unexpectedly shifts.

They’re also food for moose in winter.

Different trees have different wood fibres. Forestry companies consider aspen to be a weed when growing conifers, spruce or pine. So roughly 30,000 hectares a year of forest are sprayed with glyphosate, the active ingredient in RoundUp. That’s roughly half the size of Edmonton or 40 per cent of the 80,000 hectares of forest harvested annually.

It creates a monoculture, killing all broad-leafed plants, making a coniferous tree plantation instead of a forest.

Jen Beverly, assistant professor of wildland fire at the University of Alberta, spent the last years measuring how wildfire creates a protective effect in the forest. Land burned one year is unlikely to burn again for 25 to 45 years when left to regrow naturally. Aspen reclaims the charred earth and only slowly adds fuel to the landscape as they die and are replaced with spruce.

The forestry industry used to think harvesting had a similar effect because it removes fuel. But Beverly’s new research focus finds that theory wanting.

Harvesting doesn’t take out all the dead grass, brush and twigs, and the practice of trying to regrow conifers instead of the pioneering aspen is risky.

“You have this planted conifer in a field of grass. A fire is going to move through that really well,” said Beverly, who started gathering satellite images, visiting cutblocks and tracking burn patterns.

The impact of spraying glyphosate is better known west of the Rockies, where it’s been done for decades. B.C. Liberal MLA Mike Morris, of Prince George-Mackenzie, plans to introduce a private member’s bill to ban the practice there this fall.

“It’s too indiscriminate,” said Morris, a trapper for 40 years. He believes glyphosate spray is a big reason why moose populations fell 80 per cent in his area. Fur-bearing animals and bird populations are also down dramatically throughout the interior of B.C.

Eighty-nine species of animals nest or den in hollowed out aspen. They’re suffering. And the insect infestations sweeping the province — pine beetle and now spruce beetle — make the situation worse.

Here in Alberta, the widespread use of glyphosate in forestry started in the 1990s but now outpaces B.C. Local trappers complain it devastates their lines. The government allows companies to spray a forest twice, which ensures aspen won’t return.

“Any time they plant conifers, most of the time they spray them,” said Victor Lieffers, U of A professor of silviculture and forest ecology.

He says part of the issue is provincial regulations. Alberta analyzes the forest by satellite photo, mapping patches of forest as small as two hectares. They’re labelled as mixed, aspen or coniferous and companies are expected to return the forest to the same state as quickly as possible, regardless of natural succession.

The rules assume having this patchwork quilt of a landscape is good enough. It’s likely not, said Lieffers, who presented this week on the topic at a forest ecology conference in Flagstaff, Ariz.

“All you have to do is look at the level of disturbance. We ate smoke for five years every summer,” he said. He is calling for a new industry-wide dialogue. Forestry companies need to be willing to change, even just to protect their investment.

There’s no simple answer here. One could say simply ban the practices of stripping out aspen, but thousands of good-paying jobs in northern Alberta depend on quality timber.

Plus, the science of fire and forestry is complex, as is the regulatory framework where private companies are logging on Crown land. It gets doubly complex in the face of climate change, a political wedge. Blame forest management for the intensity of wildfires and risk getting called a climate change denier. But most catastrophes have multiple causes.

In Alberta’s case, researchers and industry experts have already seen warmer, drier conditions. There’s been a 20-year drought. Could it help to let more aspen grow? What about planting drought-resistant trees, sourcing seed from forests further south, and encouraging mixed forests to hedge our bets?


June 28, 2019

Columbia River Forecast

https://www.wildsalmon.org/news-and-media/news/cbb-treaty-fishing-to-begin-for-summer-chinook-sockeye-run-forecasts-down-from-last-year-s-actual-returns.html

CBB: Treaty Fishing To Begin For Summer Chinook, Sockeye; Run Forecasts Down From Last Year’s Actual Returns

June 12, 2019

Treaty platform fishing and commercial treaty gillnetting will begin this month for summer chinook and sockeye salmon. Tribes had not had a commercial gillnet fishery during the spring chinook run.

Preseason forecasts for these fish are predicted to be lower than actual returns in 2018 and that is reflected in the lower allocation for summer chinook (6,450) and sockeye (6,608) allowed for all treaty summer fisheries.

Only steelhead are forecasted to return at a slightly higher rate than last year, with a preseason estimate of 126,950 fish. Last year the actual count for the fish, which includes both the earlier Skamania stock and the upriver A- and B-Index run, was 100,483.

The two-state Columbia River Compact met Wednesday, June 12, to put their seal of approval on the treaty fishing. Commercial hook and line platform fishing upstream of Bonneville Dam will begin June 24 and continue through the end of the summer season, July 31. Commercial hook and line platform fishing downstream of the dam follows the same schedule.

Commercial gillnetting also will begin 6 am, Monday, June 24 and continue for 2.5 days to 6 pm, Wednesday, June 26.

The Yakama Nation Zone 6 commercial fishery will begin June 24 and will continue until further notice at Drano Lake, and the Wind and Klickitat rivers.

Some 66,668 spring chinook have passed Bonneville as of June 12, or about one-third the 10-year average.

The summer season begins June 16, according to the Compact Summer Fact Sheet No. 1. The latest U.S. v Oregon Technical Advisory Committee, which sets preseason forecasts and adjusts those forecasts in-season, recently downgraded its preseason forecast of spring chinook from 99,300 to 75,000.

The TAC forecast for summer chinook is 36,300 fish and for sockeye the forecast is 94,400, both to the Columbia River mouth. Last year’s actual run of summer chinook was 42,120 and the preseason forecast was 67,300. The actual run of sockeye last year was 210,915, while the forecast was just 99,000.

This year, the Wenatchee River can expect 18,300 sockeye, down slightly from last year’s 18,887. The forecast for the Okanagan River is 74,500, down considerably from last year’s 190,304. Some 1,300 are forecasted for the Yakima River, down slightly from last year’s 1,338. 100 sockeye are expected in the Deschutes River, up from last year’s actual of 89 fish, and the Snake River sockeye, listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act, is forecasted at 200 fish, down from last year’s 297.

The Skamania steelhead run is expected to reach 8,750 fish (of those, 3,250 will be wild), up from last year’s actual run of 6,483 (2,595 wild). The A-Index run is expected to be 110,200 (33,900 wild), up considerably from last year’s 69,338 (21,725 wild). The B-Index run is forecasted at 8,000 fish (950 wild). Last year the run of the generally larger B-run was 24,662 (2,382 wild).

Steelhead over Bonneville Dam as of June 12 was 2,467 (1,159 wild). The 10-year average for that date is 6,728 fish (2,046 wild). Based on the 10-year average timing, the total run would normally be about 30 percent complete and the unclipped run would be about 26 percent complete at Bonneville on June 10. While TAC has not yet reviewed the Skamania run size, the total run and unclipped run are tracking less than forecast based on average timing, the Fact Sheet says.

There is no specific harvest rate limit for steelhead in summer season treaty fisheries, but harvest of steelhead is low in the summer and is expected to remain within recent average rates.

TAC will begin to update run sizes in late June or early July. Actual allowed fishery impacts are based on actual not forecast run sizes. Actual allowed catches will be determined in-season.

June 27, 2019

https://thetyee.ca/News/2019/06/26/Deer-Disease-Trade-Health-Wildfire/

Governments’ Failure to Control Deer Disease Risks Trade, Health and Wildlife, Experts Warn

Chronic wasting disease is being spread by deer farms and poses huge dangers, says letter to Trudeau.

The federal government could face costly trade embargoes and health risks if it doesn’t contain a plague decimating wild deer populations, warn a group of scientists, agricultural economists and First Nations leaders.

In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and eight cabinet ministers, more than 30 experts and stakeholders called for urgent action to control the spread of chronic wasting disease. Evidence of the risks is “clear, compelling and uncontested,” the group warns.

The letter says the fatal neurological disease, which affects deer, moose, elk and other cervid species, continues to be spread to wild animals by the controversial practice of intensive deer farming.

“Official policy still allows translocation of live animals, products and equipment from cervid farms, movement of hunter carcasses and continued human exposure — in violation of basic principles of science, public trust and professional ethics,” the letter says.

The failure to act could lead to trade embargoes aimed at spreading the disease to other countries, the experts warn.

“The capacity to spread CWD to susceptible species of deer all over the world via agricultural crops has already resulted in trade actions,” the letter states. “On Oct. 24, 2018, Norway banned imports of hay or straw from any state or province with CWD.”

The letter warns that the Norwegian ban “could easily expand to other products and spread to other economic regions seeking not just to avoid the threats, but to leverage tens of billions of dollars per year in competitive advantage.”

The 2003 discovery of mad cow disease in Alberta cost Canadian producers $3 billion, and taxpayers more than $1.5 billion in subsidies.

The letter says chronic wasting disease poses a similar risk. It too is a prion disease. And the disease has repeatedly jumped species barriers and many strains have evolved, the letter notes.

The experts also warn the government about the risk to humans posed by the spread of the disease, which has been detected in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Quebec, 27 U.S. states and in South Korea, Norway and Finland.

In 2017 Health Canada advised that CWD has the potential to infect humans after studies on monkeys found they could be infected by eating meat contaminated with CWD.

The experts’ letter notes that as the disease spreads, “thousands of CWD-infected animals are being consumed by hunters and their families across North America every year.”

“Even a single transfer to a person — proving that humans are susceptible — would bring catastrophic consequences with limited options,” the experts warn.

The letter calls on the government to “develop a preparedness plan for the possible emergence of human CWD in Canada, including possible impacts to our blood supply.”

Darrel Rowledge, executive director of the Alliance for Public Wildlife, is one of those who signed the call to action.

“What will the consequences be if we get a single transmission of CWD to people?” he asked in a Tyee interview. “And how do we maintain confidence in our food supply?”

“Containment is key and the Canadian government is not doing that.”

Other signatories include UBC prion expert Dr. Neil Cashman, Dene National Chief Norman Yakeleya, Chief Stanley Grier of the Piikani Nation and University of Saskatchewan agricultural economist Richard Gray.

First Nations are concerned about the risks to health from eating venison and the threat to a traditional food supply.

“Studies in wild deer populations confirm severe impacts and possible extinctions that present catastrophic threats to Canada’s biodiversity, our economy, cultural identity and food security,” the letter warns.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture declared a state of emergency in 2001 over the disease. Researchers there recently warned that if government can’t halt the spread of CWD, the disease could lead to the extermination of wild deer populations.

Norway, which killed an entire herd of reindeer after detecting chronic wasting disease in several animals in 2016, now only accepts hay and straw from CWD-free zones.

Its ban is based on alarming new University of Texas research that showed that prions — the protein-based agents that cause CWD and similar diseases — can survive both on and in a half dozen agricultural crops, including wheat.

Prions have amazing properties and continue to confound scientists.

Once contaminated with saliva or urine from infected animals, materials including wood, rocks, plastic, glass, cement, stainless steel and aluminum can retain and release prions.

Hamsters housed with these contaminated materials have became infected with CWD and died. A 2018 University of Texas study reported, “Strikingly, most of the hamsters developed classical clinical signs of prion disease and typical disease-associated brain changes.”

The threat to wild deer populations has been well documented. One recent Wyoming study found that CWD killed 10 per cent of the wild deer population between 2003 and 2010. At that rate local populations could go extinct within 50 years, it concluded.

“The decline was caused directly by CWD lowering annual survival of female deer, which have the biggest impact on population growth rates,” said researcher David Edmunds. “This was because CWD-positive deer died both directly from the disease and were more likely to be killed by hunters.”

The plague is also growing and spreading.

Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Environment reported a substantial increase in the number of confirmed cases, particularly in central and southeastern parts of the province. The findings were based in deer heads sent to the ministry by hunters.

Researchers identified 349 positive cases in more than 2,000 submissions last year.

The Conservative governments of Ralph Klein and Grant Devine introduced chronic wasting disease to wild deer by promoting deer farming in the 1980s and 1990s. Infected deer escaped into the wild and spread the fatal brain wasting disease.

Both governments ignored the warning by scientists at the time.

There are no effective live animal tests, vaccines or cures for chronic wasting disease.


June 24, 2019

June 23, 2019

Northern B.C. lake closed to fishing due to infestation of invasive goldfish

By Simon LittleOnline Journalist Global News

Officials are closing a lake in northern B.C. to recreational fishers due to an infestation of goldfish.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) announced the angling closure Thursday, as a part of a program to prevent the spread of the non-native species.

READ MORE: Goldfish threaten Yellow Lake ecosystem near Penticton

The ministry says the goldfish (Carassius auratus) were recently spotted in Lost Lake, about 1.1 kilometers from the Kitsumkalum River and about 10 kilometres north of Terrace.

The closure takes effect on Saturday, and will remain in place indefinitely.

“Goldfish introductions have had destructive effects in British Columbia. How long goldfish have been in Lost Lake is uncertain. However, multiple sizes of goldfish are evident, which suggests they are reproducing,” said the ministry in a bulletin.

“Biologists are completing assessments of the lake to determine the extent of the goldfish population. The biologists are developing management interventions and treatment options to prevent the goldfish from spreading into the Skeena watershed.”

The Invasive Species Council of B.C. says goldfish compete with native fish for food, potentially threatening an ecosystem.

This isn’t the first time invasive goldfish have turned up in a B.C. lake.

Back in 2017, the Ministry of Environment was called to Yellow Lake near Penticton due to an infestation of golfdfish.

They have previously been spotted in several other lakes throughout the interior.

FLNRO says releasing aquarium fish into the wild remains illegal, and is reminding the public to return any unwanted fish to pet stores rather than freeing them.

Anyone who spots invasive species is asked to call the ministry’s 24-hour Report all Poachers and Polluters (RAPP) hotline at 1 877 952-7277.


June 22, 2019

Summer fishing bans proposed for South Island waters

http://www.keepcanadafishing.com/south-vancouver-island-fishing-bans/

Posted By: Skye Ryanon: December 12, 2018In: News, Top Stories

David Gunn has enjoyed 40 years of fishing in the Cowichan River, but now the fishing guide wonders how many trips out on it he has left.

“There’s huge problems obviously,” said Gunn, Owner of River Quest Charters.

“I mean there are rivers now that have no fish that had lots of fish when I was a kid. So something needs to be done,” said Gunn.

The province is now proposing summer fishing bans for most streams and rivers on southern Vancouver Island including the Cowichan, as drought conditions persist.

Biologists say that fishing is adding one more strike against fish stocks that are already struggling in warming waters and low stream flows.

“And what we’ve seen is a pattern,” said Brendan Anderson, a fisheries biologist with the Ministry of Forests, Lands & Natural Resources.

“Where in the southern portion of Vancouver Island most systems will undergo some period of stressful condition,” said Anderson.

So instead of responding in emergency closures like in years past, biologists are proposing putting blanket summer closures on angling in South Island rivers and streams to encourage compliance and prevent surprises to the public.

“To do all that in real time and try to change regulations and communicate that to the public is difficult,” said Anderson.

Lake Cowichan Mayor Rod Peters, who also runs a home supply business in town, is worried about the economic impact this will have on his tourism-reliant community.

“Because they were talking about closing down the west coast of the Island,” said Peters.

“And then all of a sudden they’re talking about our river which drains into the east side of the Island which I was shocked that they were going to do that,” said Peters.

Since the province is encouraging public input on the proposed changes, Peters plans to draft a letter with his council appealing for some concessions on the Cowichan, since it is an important economic driver in his community.

“It would deter people coming up here if they couldn’t fish the river and fly fish,” said Peters.

Those who love and have watched the loss of the Cowichan River are now trying to find a balance between the economics of today’s fishing versus tomorrow’s fish stocks.


June 22, 2019

Why did deer meat from an infected herd end up in Canada's food chain?

https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/cwd-mad-cow-disease-prion-bse-cfia-deer-chronic-wasting-disease-cjd-1.5185795

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said 'no animals known to be infected were released into the human food chain,' after more than 2,000 deer from a Quebec herd infected with chronic wasting disease were permitted to be sold for human consumption. (Shutterstock / Mircea Costina)

________________________________________

This is an excerpt from Second Opinion, a weekly roundup of eclectic and under-the-radar health and medical science news emailed to subscribers every Saturday morning. If you haven't subscribed yet, you can do that by clicking here

________________________________________

Last fall, a dangerous animal sickness — chronic wasting disease (CWD) — was detected in a Quebec deer farm. It was a disturbing development — the first sign of this highly contagious infection outside of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

There were almost 3,000 deer in the herd. Eleven tested positive for CWD. The rest — more than 2,700 animals — tested negative and were released into the food chain.

It was a controversial decision, in part, because so little is known about the human health risk from CWD.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency's website cautions that: "A negative test result does not guarantee that an individual animal is not infected with CWD."

"There is not currently a food safety test available for any prion disease," CFIA's spokesperson told CBC News in an email. "The tests that are used are the best available. In accordance with Health Canada's precautionary approach, no animals known to be infected were released into the human food chain."

CWD is similar to another frightening animal illness — mad cow disease, officially called "bovine spongiform encephalopathy" or BSE. It is a fatal infection in cattle that can be spread to humans through beef consumption.

Both CWD and BSE are caused by a strange protein — a prion— which can jump the species barrier, triggering a deadly cascade of neurological damage.

Worldwide, BSE has caused about 225 cases of human prion disease called "variant Creutzfeldt Jacob Disease (vCJD)." There is no treatment and no cure.

After an epidemic of mad cow disease in the U.K. more than two decades ago, governments developed strict controls to prevent BSE infected cattle from being processed for human food.

But so far there are few official controls in place to keep CWD out of the food chain.

Is CWD a human health risk?

At this point, scientists don't know whether CWD can infect humans. So far, no human cases of CWD have been detected.

But there is reason to be concerned, based on research showing that the CWD prion can cross the species barrier into non-human primates.

As a precaution, the World Health Organization and other health agencies recommend that no prion-infected meat should be consumed.

This undated photo provided by the journal Science shows white-tailed deer at the Colorado State University Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Research Facility in Fort Collins, Colo. (Edward A. Hoover/Science/The Associated Press)

But experts say Canadians are unknowingly consuming meat from animals infected with CWD.

"Human exposure to CWD is quite widespread in my opinion," said Michael Coulthard, who tracks prion diseases at the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The risk is highest for people who consume wild deer and elk.

"The big complicating factor is that CWD infected animals can be completely asymptomatic for a long time before they get clinical disease, so if you don't test the animals you won't necessarily have any clue that the animal is infected," said Coulthard.

"In cases like that, it's very likely that many people have been exposed through consumption of those harvested animals."

For 20 years, Coulthard's team has been tracking human prion disease in Canada. So far, there have been two cases caused by infected cattle. Both infections were traced back to the U.K. (There is also a sporadic form of human prion disease that appears spontaneously in about one or two out of every million people).

"We're fairly confident that we haven't seen obvious evidence for CWD having been transmitted to humans," said Coulthard. But scientists suspect human infections from CWD might have unusual symptoms.

"It could look different," said Coulthard. "Prions have repeatedly shown themselves to be sources of scientific surprise."

"I think we're teetering on the edge of a catastrophe, to use a very strong word." - Dr. Neil Cashman, prion scientist, UBC

Meanwhile, word is gradually spreading about ground breaking research by Canadian scientists who were able to infect some macaques with CWD by feeding them deer meat.

The results, if confirmed, would be the most compelling evidence so far that CWD could be a risk to humans.

But the study has not yet been published or peer reviewed, although it has been presented at two international prion conferences. The scientists, based at the Alberta Prion Research Institute, are completing follow-up experiments and plan to submit the work for publication soon.

Scientists, Indigenous leaders and wildlife advocates signed letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urging immediate action to stop the spread of chronic wasting disease in Canada. (CBC News)

At this point, Canada and the U.S. are the most heavily affected countries. But the disease has been found in Norway, Finland and Sweden. Scientists believe CWD is spread between animals through saliva, urine, blood and even though the soil.

Scientists demand action from Ottawa

A group of scientists, Indigenous leaders and wildlife advocates sent a letter to Ottawa this week asking the federal government "to recognize the dire nature of this epidemic," and implement controls to stop the spread of CWD including closing game farms and prohibiting transport of CWD infected carcasses.

The letter also demands expanded testing for CWD to ensure the safety of the food supply.

"I think we're teetering on the edge of a catastrophe, to use a very strong word," said Dr. Neil Cashman, one of the prion scientists who signed the letter.

________________________________________

 

About the Author

Kelly Crowe

Medical science

Kelly Crowe is a medical sciences correspondent for CBC News, specializing in health and biomedical research. She joined CBC in 1991, and has spent 25 years reporting on a wide range of national news and current affairs, with a particular interest in science and medicine.

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June 12, 2019

Barbless hooks didn't help fish survival Washington State

https://www.chinookobserver.com/content/tncms/live/ <https://www.chinookobserver.com/content/tncms/live/>

Barbless hooks didn't help fish survival; Chinook returns awful

Columbia Basin BulletinJun 7, 2019

As of June 1, it is no longer mandatory to use barbless hooks to fish for salmon, steelhead and trout in the Columbia River.

In March, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission directed the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to make the use of barbless hooks voluntary for salmon and steelhead fisheries in the Columbia River and its tributaries.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife followed suit, lifting the requirement to use barbless hooks, also on June 1, so that Oregon regulations remain concurrent with Washington in the jointly managed waters of the Columbia River. Oregon’s rule is an emergency rule and will still require the approval of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission this month.

Anglers have been required to use barbless hooks when fishing for salmon, steelhead and trout in the Columbia River since 2013 when Columbia River harvest reforms were initiated by the two states. The barbed hook ban was initiated to promote the recovery of wild salmon and steelhead.

As a conservation tool, barbless hooks are easier to remove than barbed hooks, reducing the likelihood of killing or injuring fish, said WDFW officials at the time.

However, when WDFW completed a performance review of its first five-years of harvest reform last year, the Washington Commission had asked if science supported banning barbed hooks.

“The body of work (studies on conservation savings) is inconclusive that there are measurable savings going from barbed to barbless hooks,” said WDFW’s Ryan Lothrop last week. “The biggest effect is where the fish is hooked.”

Lothrop is WDFW Columbia River fishery manager. He said that before and after harvest reform, mortality rates for caught and released salmon and steelhead had not changed.

However, that does not apply to the smaller trout where barbed hooks could be detrimental in a catch and release fishery, he added.

The commission has also been listening to the public and had been hearing from some anglers and guides that they preferred barbed hooks, Lothrop said.

At its March 2 meeting in Spokane, the Washington Commission voted to allow barbed hooks beginning June 1.

Not everyone agrees. David Moskowitz, executive director of The Conservation Angler, an advocacy group for wild fish, plans to oppose Oregon’s emergency rule at the Commission’s meeting this month. In an email to the Oregon Commission, he said that “there are multiple reasons to require barbless hooks in fisheries in Oregon including human safety and applying principles of ‘fair chase’ to angling,” and added that “We will ask that the Commission not consent to the emergency rule on Thursday.”

Chinook returns dismal

Currently Chinook fishing is not allowed in joint state waters, largely due to an extremely poor return of spring Chinook, but also due to what Lothrop said are “major hatchery shortages” of broodstock. The last spring Chinook angling this year was upstream of Bonneville Dam May 11 and 12.

The U.S. v Oregon Technical Advisory Committee downgraded the already poor run size from the preseason forecast of 99,300 fish to 75,000 May 20. That is a drop from last year’s actual return of 115,081 and half the 10-year average of 198,200 fish.

Just 54,657 spring Chinook had passed the dam as of June 3, 37 percent of the 10-year average on that date of 148,623. Jack Chinook passage is 6,728, 27 percent of the 10-year average on that date of 24,719. Passage of jack salmon in one year are often considered a harbinger of the adult run the following year. Add in the 3,418 that have passed the dam as summer Chinook by June 4 and the total is 58,075 spring Chinook. The Fish Passage Center considers Chinook passing June 1 and after to be summer Chinook, whereas the two-state Columbia River Compact and TAC count as spring Chinook fish passing the dam through June 15.

Steelhead numbers over Bonneville are 2,229 total, 1,081 of those wild, as of June 3. The 10-year average is 5,483 total, with 1,715 of those wild fish. Lothrop said these are Skamania fish. Beginning July 1, steelhead that pass the dam will be mostly upriver and Snake River fish.

Chinook that pass Bonneville Dam after June 15 are summer Chinook. That forecast is dismal: 35,900 summer Chinook are expected, down from last year’s actual count of 42,120 (the 2018 preseason forecast was 67,300).

Upper Columbia summer Chinook have been in a steady decline since 2015’s run of over 120,000 fish.

Lothrop said that it is unlikely that angling for spring Chinook will reopen this year and also that the poor run of summer Chinook means that angling will likely continue to be closed through that season, as well.

That leaves just summer steelhead angling in the mainstem Columbia River and that will be limited. Right now, two hatchery steelhead are allowed, but beginning July 1 that bag limit will drop to one fish, with steelhead fishing closed at night. In addition, further protections will be put in place later in the summer, such as rolling closures, similar to those implemented two years ago, Lothrop said.

Hook-rule end game

The temporary barbed hook rule will remain in effect until further notice or until it expires in late November, Oregon says. For it to become a permanent rule in Oregon, the Fish and Wildlife Commission will need to approve a rule change, which commissioners are expected to consider at a future meeting.

Due to Endangered Species Act permitting with NOAA, WDFW says it is unable to fully lift restrictions on barbed hooks in some areas at this time, including tributaries upstream of McNary Dam, including the Snake River.

Still, barbless hook requirements on salmon and steelhead fishing are being lifted across a broad swath of Washington waters, including the mainstem Columbia River from Buoy 10 to Chief Joseph Dam, and Columbia River tributaries from Buoy 10 to McNary Dam.

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June 10, 2019


Chronic Wasting Disease CWD and B.C.

As mentioned – CWD prions are found in many tissues and organs plus urine, feces, plants, water and soil shared by cervids. Concentration of cervids IS NOT recommended. Animal to animal transmission can occur through bodily fluids like feces, saliva and urine. This tansmission can uccur directly or indirectly through soil, food and water. Once introduced, the CWD protien is contagious, and can spread quickly. Prions can remain in the environment for a very long time after the animals are gone or dead. As of 2018, there is no strong evidence CWD has infected humans but much work remains to be done. For now it is strongly recommended people avoid exposure to CWD animals, tissues and body fluids. CWD continues to be found in captive and non captive members of the deer family. DO NOT FEED wild Deer, Elk and moose (this recommendation from all leading disease control agencies in Canada and USA). Feeding artificially concentrates animals in one location for extended periods of time exposing them to urine, feces, plants, water and soil potentially containing these fatal prions. Avoid the distribution, sales, purchases and use of natural Deer, Elk and Moose urine based lures. These products are slated to be illegal in BC 2019 / 2020. CWD prions have been found by testing urines from cervids, urine based lures are made by collecting urine from captive herds in catch pens that are also contaminated with urine, feces, saliva and blood which may contain the fatal prions. There is absolutely no means in place to govern and ensure urine based lures and attractants are CWD prion free. SYNTHETIC scents and attractants are highly recommended. CWD IS FATAL to Deer, Elk and Moose. Every citizen of BC has a moral and legal obligation to understand the seriousness of this disease and help prevent it from destroying our wildlife.


May 26, 2019

Kootenay Big Game Symposium Presentation Summaries

This is a summary of the Symposium speakers and the key elements of their talks.

Worth while circulating to all and sundry.

The Habitat Conservation Fund material is a bit off base. Joe Hall wasn't in the room, Ray wasn't present either.

A presentation was delivered to Premier Bill Bennett [jr] and his entire Cabinet at the Inn of The South in Cranbrook in May of 1979, headed up by Carmen Purdy, Mario Rocca, Dave [Moke] Melenka, Ron Skiber and Barney Caufield Sr. . The meeting was to be twenty minutes and lasted two hours, the suggestion to place a habitat fee on our hunting, guiding, fishing, trapping licences the topic - to be collected by government and provided to the user groups for critters that pay their way. ie. hunted, trapped or fished. The then Minister of Agriculture, James Hewitt was the main reason for it moving forward fro this meeting, and later many others in the Social Credit Cabinet supported the initiative . At one point we almost had the government convinced to put these collected funds [our money, a volunteer tax] into the hands of the BC Conservation Foundation. Graham Kenyon the president at the time. Vanderzalm killed this initiative. The NDP basically killed the fund, $178,000,000 dollars later provided by hunters, fisherfolk and guides--- We now have less game, fish and fur than when we started. We need an audit of the fund, how the fund has been squandered on non-game species over time. We should still insist that it be turned over to a Game Commission represented by hunters, guides, trappers and fisherman, money being spent on improving fish and game numbers only....or acquiring specific habitat.

Life is good, have a good day , kill a predator.

Cranbrook Mayor, Lee Pratt, welcomed 550 hunters to the Big Game Management Symposium at the Key City Auditorium in Cranbrook, BC on April 13, 2019. While, not a hunter himself, Mayor Pratt supports hunters and acknowledged that hunting has been a big economic driver in his community and in the East Kootenay in general.The organizer of the Symposium, Carmen Purdy, Founder and Chair, Kootenay Wildlife Heritage Fund opened the Symposium, explaining his long involvement with BC Nature Trust and the BC Wildlife Federation in order to benefit big game in the Kootenays. The work of these organizations has resulted in the enhancement of 32,000 acres and the 28,000 acres acquired for elk and deer and the other plants and animals on those properties. These efforts to support big game date back to 1979 with proposals from Joe Hall and Ray Demarchi to impose a tax of 10 cents on both per tonne of coal and per cubic meter of timber that did not succeed but led to a tax hunters and anglers for each licence and tag-licence which established the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund. Supplemental winter feeding of elk was conducted by the Wildlife Branch between 1974 and 1979 and then by Carmen using hay from a field at the Crestbrook Pulp Mill in response to a severe winter in 1980-81 when there was 40 inches of snow. This required a large voluntary effort by hunters similar to the efforts of the last few winters when more than a hundred hunters donated funds and time to feed elk throughout the East Kootenay Trench and the Elk Valley.


Symposium Compendium and Comments

Ken Sumanik was Regional Wildlife Biologist responsible for the entire northern half of the province between 1966 and 1974 when he was transferred to the Kootenay Region as Regional Habitat Protection Biologist and left government to go into private consulting in 1981. Mr. Sumanik provided a definition of habitat as a defined space where one can find a particular plant or animal. When you find yourself your chosen animal’s “habitat” the first question you might ask is “Where are they?” and seeing none the next question should be, “Why aren’t they here?” and the third question is, “What happened to them?” Mr. Sumanik, reflecting on the talks of the five feature speakers, reiterated that it is apparent that our big game populations are in dire straights. How is it that Norway is only 40% the size of BC yet where we harvest a few thousand each of moose and elk annually they currently harvest some 31,000 moose and 42,000 red deer plus an additional 33,000 roe deer and 41,000 roe deer? In regards to moose management, their logging practices create small clear cuts which provide much needed browse as well as residual cover. Heavy cropping of both sexes and a preponderance of calves in the moose harvest maintains a young age structure. However, it is worth noting that these spectacular numbers of animal produced each year have occurred during a long period when wolves existed at very low levels. Wolves are undergoing resurgence throughout Europe including Norway and Sweden. Issues that arise in BC include double standards when it comes to who can and who cannot hunt. Mr. Sumanik summed the symposium by saying that we need hands-on management if we are to recover our big game populations. Mr. Sumanik also stated his opinion that there should be the same laws for all residents of the province. Also that restrictions are being imposed by politicians who respond to what Mr. Sumanik referred to the badly misinformed urban public who have difficulty in comprehending what they do not understand and lobby to force their ill-advised philosophy of letting nature take its course. To quote Dr. Geist, “One should not expect wildlife to fend on its own, unassisted, in landscapes that are ecological caricatures, poor in habitats and filled with barriers, mortal dangers and harassments.” In other words, big game management requires hands-on management if it is to succeed as it has in the Scandinavian and several other European countries.


Kootenay Big Game Symposium Presentation Summaries #2

Raymond Demarchi, retired BC Chief of Wildlife Conservation, described the historic conditions of the East Kootenay prior to and during his 28-year tenure as the Kootenay Regional Wildlife Section Head. In his first year, in the winter of 1964-65, he counted and classified 9,000 big game animals in a region which for many years supported up to 25% of the provincial big game hunting. He stated that big game populations can fluctuate widely and that in the 1800’s and early 1900’s ungulate populations were very low, and then increased rapidly after severe wild fires of the 1920’s and 30’s. These fires were a result of unmanaged slash from extensive railway tie-logging and created temporary or seral shrub-grasslands which provided much needed winter forage for deer, elk and bighorn sheep. This plus the intensive predator control by the BC Game Commission that began after WWII led to a peak of abundance in both species of deer, elk and bighorn sheep. These once productive shrub-grasslands have become overgrown by conifer forest succession which has greatly reduced their usefulness as big game winter ranges. Demarchi suggested that protecting the safety of the public by increasing the moat between predators and the human population and decreasing the potential risk of fire damage to communities by using logging and fire to rehabilitate game ranges should be serious and immediate government priorities. He advised designating and managing specific high capability ungulate winter range areas as a priority over forestry. He advised finding common ground through coordinated planning with other organizations including forestry, livestock and recreational interests and also including farmers who might be induced to remove fences if there were successful programs such as the ones in Colorado to compensate for wildlife damage. While he stated that management of large carnivores had to be part of big game management, alienating the concerned public with predator bashing will only end in a stalemate and a catatonic response from government. In the meantime while increasing the quantity of big game animals through habitat management, focus should also be on quality of populations by ensuring their socio-biological well being by restoring near normal sex and age ratios.


Kootenay Big Game Symposium Presentation Summaries #3

Dr. Valerius Geist, Professor Emeritus, University of Calgary (retired), is a specialist on biology, behaviour and social dynamics of North American ungulates. Geist maintains that grizzly bears and wolves are very sensitive and intelligent animals that can sense when people are a threat to them and will move away readily if people are bold, as was true with bears when bears were hunted in 1959 when he began work as a student at Well Grey Provincial Park. However, he stated that in Banff and Lake Louise, grizzly bears have become less afraid of people because the ones they encounter are hikers and not carrying guns and thus are no threat to them. In the Spatsizi, he studied Stone’s sheep, moose and caribou where there were large gatherings of bulls. Recently there was a superpack of 43 wolves in that area and at the same time he observed that there is a dearth of wild ungulates. Thus Geist described this situation as a “predator pit” when an abundance of predators reduces the numbers of ungulates to 10 percent of the previous long term level. This he feels is the result of protectionism, something that the US National Park Service has admitted is causing a loss of biodiversity and an increase in invasive plant species. He urged the audience to visit the website “Wildergarden” to learn about bringing back biodiversity through management using fire and logging. In the Saxony of Germany where there is the greatest density of wolves in the country, wolves are increasing at the rate of 35% per year leading to severe problems with farmers and game managers and causing traffic fatalities. Historical information about wolves is being ignored. He urged a return to science, scholarship and the middle approach, avoiding extremism. Wolves on average each kill 16 to 22 elk per year in Yellowstone so there is now a deficit of elk. The hunter take of black-tailed deer on Vancouver Island for example has dropped from 25,000 per year [40 to 50] years ago when wolves were near extinction to 2,000 recently when wolves were plentiful. Anecdotal observations reveal that Roosevelt elk have reduced their vocalizations during the rut to avoid wolf predation. The Island’s deer populations are now concentrated on farms and urban areas where they seek security from both cougars and wolves. Geist predicted that the extinction of the wolf will be the result of protecting them as they interbreed with domestic dogs and become coywolves, a hybrid with dogs. Geist’s solution is to manage the land for biodiversity rather than protecting it in parks.


Kootenay Big Game Symposium Presentation Summaries #4

Dr. Vince “Doc Moose” Crichton of Manitoba stated that the big issue for moose management in Manitoba at the moment is the unregulated harvest and that there a need for regulations that will apply to all hunters. Wolves also can cause a major problem. The main mortality sources for moose are predation by wolves and bears, railroad deaths, excessive access associated with clear cutting, winter ticks, brain worm, and hunting (regulated and non-regulated). In open prairie areas, moose are increasing. In Saskatchewan here were once over 100,000 farms, now there are 30,000 or less and moose numbers have increased on these larger, continuous farms. Fires produce good habitat for moose as well in the forested areas of the province. In 1985 the moose harvest in Manitoba was worth $8 million supported by 8000 hunters . At present there are only 2,000 hunters due to the decline in moose numbers. On Duck Mountain, one of the best hunting areas, from 1993 to 2010 there was a 58% decrease in the number of moose (although 4 areas were not hit with declines). In Alaska, 20 to 25 bulls per 100 cows are adequate because the bulls have harems of females in the open habitats during the rut. In Boreal and Temperate forests, bulls do not gather harems and thus 60 to 65 bulls per 100 cows is a better fit since females are only in oestrus for 30 hours. Larger populations of moose are required to have sufficient numbers of older females that are more productive, having twins, and in the occasional case triplets. Because populations of less than 100-133 moose cannot recover easily, it would be best to close hunting in the many populations in Manitoba that average 100-133 moose but there is a lack of political will to do so. Crichton advised making conservation a way of life (not just talking about it) and using a team approach to develop a shared management plan, putting science before politics. His discussion points with government include protecting cows and calves, enacting conservation closures on small populations, offering outfitters two or three bear tags per guided hunter, giving free bear and wolf tags to licensed Manitoba resident hunters, offering monetary incentives for registered trappers, closure of hunting of moose by non-resident hunters and removing packs of timber wolves from selected areas plus, of course significantly reducing the unregulated harvest.


Kootenay Big Game Symposium Presentation Summaries #5

Dr. Charles E. Kay, PhD, Wildlife Ecology, spoke about the lies, myths and scientific fraud surrounding wildlife issues in North America. Unlike most ecologists, Dr. Kay has spent a great amount of time studying the archaeological records as well as the journals of early western North American explorers. This has led him to conclude that the impact of Indigenous populations on large predators and on ungulates was far more important than previously thought since the human population size may have been underestimated. (He stated that some researchers now estimate 100 million Indigenous people in the Americas). Dr. Kay stated that large predators can have significant effects on prey for example; cougar studies have estimated an average kill of 50 deer per year while bears in Alaska also consume a significant number of moose and caribou calves. According to Parks Canada data, wolves and other predators are having a large effect in places like the Bow Valley and Park Canada’s Ya Ha Tinda Ranch in Alberta where elk numbers declined from 3000 prior to wolf decolonization to only around 300 today. In Yellowstone, wolves were released at three locations after computer modeling predicted there would be no significant impact on ungulates. The actual results, however are that the Northern Yellowstone elk herd which at its peak numbered more than 19,000 elk declined to a low of 3,000 while moose numbers are down to zero. Prior to the release of wolves, 5000 elk wintered In the Gros Ventre valley south of YNP, 3000 on feed and 2000 free ranging. However, today all of those elk are gone. Kay maintains that wolves have not lead to the restoration of deciduous ecosystems in Yellowstone as claimed in a widely seen video by a British videographer. In fact those few small areas that have shown some recovery of shrubs and trees were all at high elevation but all of the low and mid elevation areas with existing photographic records are still in poor condition. Thus, Dr. Kay concludes, the return of the wolf to Yellowstone is not an immediate means of restoring ecosystems which may require 60 years or more to occur. Dr. Kay also discussed predator-mediated competition where the addition of alternative prey species allows the predator to take the most vulnerable prey to very low levels or even extirpation. He discussed examples of predator–mediated competition between mule deer, elk and mountain lions on Elk Ridge in southern Utah, and caribou, moose and wolves across southern Canada. 


Kootenay Big Game Symposium Presentation Summaries #6

Mr. Jim Beers, Biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (retired), outlined the problems that large predators are causing in many areas of the world including North America, Europe, Russia, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and India. Large predators chase, attack wound, kill and eat big game animals, cattle, sheep, dogs and even humans while also spreading infectious diseases. There is usually no documentation of how many occurrences of predator attacks and what was killed and thus there is confusion about the causes of declines of prey. Local communities could solve the problem of predation but far-away political entities in urban centres have become increasingly assertive about enforcing protection for predators. In settled landscapes, large predators will, when uncontrolled amongst abundant food sources, increase their densities until the total food supply dwindles as happened with wolves and moose on Isle Royale Island. Since the 1960’s, national governments both in the US and elsewhere have seized authority and jurisdiction over wildlife. With the support of scientists, wealthy supporters and the environmental/animal rights movement these issues have risen to the United Nations. Beers advised raising a fuss and putting pressure on government. Lobby the government to change the delegation of authority so that the responsibility for the management of big game in a local region is someone you can elect or remove at the next election. He also feels that revenue must be restored for conservation and not for non-game issues. Wildlife is an important natural resource, especially when local people can control wildlife and enhance its value for the local community.


Kootenay Big Game Symposium Presentation Summaries #7

Ken Sumanik

Symposium Compendium and Comments

Ken Sumanik was Regional Wildlife Biologist responsible for the entire northern half of the province between 1966 and 1974 when he was transferred to the Kootenay Region as Regional Habitat Protection Biologist and left government to go into private consulting in 1981. Mr. Sumanik provided a definition of habitat as a defined space where one can find a particular plant or animal. When you find yourself your chosen animal’s “habitat” the first question you might ask is “Where are they?” and seeing none the next question should be, “Why aren’t they here?” and the third question is, “What happened to them?” Mr. Sumanik, reflecting on the talks of the five feature speakers, reiterated that it is apparent that our big game populations are in dire straights. How is it that Norway is only 40% the size of BC yet where we harvest a few thousand each of moose and elk annually they currently harvest some 31,000 moose and 42,000 red deer plus an additional 33,000 roe deer and 41,000 roe deer? In regards to moose management, their logging practices create small clear cuts which provide much needed browse as well as residual cover. Heavy cropping of both sexes and a preponderance of calves in the moose harvest maintains a young age structure. However, it is worth noting that these spectacular numbers of animal produced each year have occurred during a long period when wolves existed at very low levels. Wolves are undergoing resurgence throughout Europe including Norway and Sweden. Issues that arise in BC include double standards when it comes to who can and who cannot hunt. Mr. Sumanik summed the symposium by saying that we need hands-on management if we are to recover our big game populations. Mr. Sumanik also stated his opinion that there should be the same laws for all residents of the province. Also that restrictions are being imposed by politicians who respond to what Mr. Sumanik referred to the badly misinformed urban public who have difficulty in comprehending what they do not understand and lobby to force their ill-advised philosophy of letting nature take its course. To quote Dr. Geist, “One should not expect wildlife to fend on its own, unassisted, in landscapes that are ecological caricatures, poor in habitats and filled with barriers, mortal dangers and harassments.” In other words, big game management requires hands-on management if it is to succeed as it has in the Scandinavian and several other European countries.


Kootenay Big Game Symposium Presentation 8

Cranbrook Mayor, Lee Pratt, welcomed 550 hunters to the Big Game Management Symposium at the Key City Auditorium in Cranbrook, BC on April 13, 2019. While, not a hunter himself, Mayor Pratt supports hunters and acknowledged that hunting has been a big economic driver in his community and in the East Kootenay in general.

The organizer of the Symposium, Carmen Purdy, Founder and Chair, Kootenay Wildlife Heritage Fund opened the Symposium, explaining his long involvement with BC Nature Trust and the BC Wildlife Federation in order to benefit big game in the Kootenays. The work of these organizations has resulted in the enhancement of 32,000 acres and the 28,000 acres acquired for elk and deer and the other plants and animals on those properties. These efforts to support big game date back to 1979 with proposals from Joe Hall and Ray Demarchi to impose a tax of 10 cents on both per tonne of coal and per cubic meter of timber that did not succeed but led to a tax hunters and anglers for each licence and tag-licence which established the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund. Supplemental winter feeding of elk was conducted by the Wildlife Branch between 1974 and 1979 and then by Carmen using hay from a field at the Crestbrook Pulp Mill in response to a severe winter in 1980-81 when there was 40 inches of snow. This required a large voluntary effort by hunters similar to the efforts of the last few winters when more than a hundred hunters donated funds and time to feed elk throughout the East Kootenay Trench and the Elk Valley.

Raymond Demarchi, retired BC Chief of Wildlife Conservation, described the historic conditions of the East Kootenay prior to and during his 28-year tenure as the Kootenay Regional Wildlife Section Head. In his first year, in the winter of 1964-65, he counted and classified 9,000 big game animals in a region which for many years supported up to 25% of the provincial big game hunting. He stated that big game populations can fluctuate widely and that in the 1800’s and early 1900’s ungulate populations were very low, and then increased rapidly after severe wild fires of the 1920’s and 30’s. These fires were a result of unmanaged slash from extensive railway tie-logging and created temporary or seral shrub-grasslands which provided much needed winter forage for deer, elk and bighorn sheep. This plus the intensive predator control by the BC Game Commission that began after WWII led to a peak of abundance in both species of deer, elk and bighorn sheep. These once productive shrub-grasslands have become overgrown by conifer forest succession which has greatly reduced their usefulness as big game winter ranges. Demarchi suggested that protecting the safety of the public by increasing the moat between predators and the human population and decreasing the potential risk of fire damage to communities by using logging and fire to rehabilitate game ranges should be serious and immediate government priorities. He advised designating and managing specific high capability ungulate winter range areas as a priority over forestry. He advised finding common ground through coordinated planning with other organizations including forestry, livestock and recreational interests and also including farmers who might be induced to remove fences if there were successful programs such as the ones in Colorado to compensate for wildlife damage. While he stated that management of large carnivores had to be part of big game management, alienating the concerned public with predator bashing will only end in a stalemate and a catatonic response from government. In the meantime while increasing the quantity of big game animals through habitat management, focus should also be on quality of populations by ensuring their socio-biological well being by restoring near normal sex and age ratios.

Dr. Valerius Geist, Professor Emeritus, University of Calgary (retired), is a specialist on biology, behaviour and social dynamics of North American ungulates. Geist maintains that grizzly bears and wolves are very sensitive and intelligent animals that can sense when people are a threat to them and will move away readily if people are bold, as was true with bears when bears were hunted in 1959 when he began work as a student at Well Grey Provincial Park. However, he stated that in Banff and Lake Louise, grizzly bears have become less afraid of people because the ones they encounter are hikers and not carrying guns and thus are no threat to them. In the Spatsizi, he studied Stone’s sheep, moose and caribou where there were large gatherings of bulls. Recently there was a superpack of 43 wolves in that area and at the same time he observed that there is a dearth of wild ungulates. Thus Geist described this situation as a “predator pit” when an abundance of predators reduces the numbers of ungulates to 10 percent of the previous long term level. This he feels is the result of protectionism, something that the US National Park Service has admitted is causing a loss of biodiversity and an increase in invasive plant species. He urged the audience to visit the website “Wildergarden” to learn about bringing back biodiversity through management using fire and logging. In the Saxony of Germany where there is the greatest density of wolves in the country, wolves are increasing at the rate of 35% per year leading to severe problems with farmers and game managers and causing traffic fatalities. Historical information about wolves is being ignored. He urged a return to science, scholarship and the middle approach, avoiding extremism. Wolves on average each kill 16 to 22 elk per year in Yellowstone so there is now a deficit of elk. The hunter take of black-tailed deer on Vancouver Island for example has dropped from 25,000 per year [40 to 50] years ago when wolves were near extinction to 2,000 recently when wolves were plentiful. Anecdotal observations reveal that Roosevelt elk have reduced their vocalizations during the rut to avoid wolf predation. The Island’s deer populations are now concentrated on farms and urban areas where they seek security from both cougars and wolves. Geist predicted that the extinction of the wolf will be the result of protecting them as they interbreed with domestic dogs and become coywolves, a hybrid with dogs. Geist’s solution is to manage the land for biodiversity rather than protecting it in parks.

Dr. Vince “Doc Moose” Crichton of Manitoba stated that the big issue for moose management in Manitoba at the moment is the unregulated harvest and that there a need for regulations that will apply to all hunters. Wolves also can cause a major problem. The main mortality sources for moose are predation by wolves and bears, railroad deaths, excessive access associated with clear cutting, winter ticks, brain worm, and hunting (regulated and non-regulated). In open prairie areas, moose are increasing. In Saskatchewan here were once over 100,000 farms, now there are 30,000 or less and moose numbers have increased on these larger, continuous farms. Fires produce good habitat for moose as well in the forested areas of the province. In 1985 the moose harvest in Manitoba was worth $8 million supported by 8000 hunters . At present there are only 2,000 hunters due to the decline in moose numbers. On Duck Mountain, one of the best hunting areas, from 1993 to 2010 there was a 58% decrease in the number of moose (although 4 areas were not hit with declines). In Alaska, 20 to 25 bulls per 100 cows are adequate because the bulls have harems of females in the open habitats during the rut. In Boreal and Temperate forests, bulls do not gather harems and thus 60 to 65 bulls per 100 cows is a better fit since females are only in oestrus for 30 hours. Larger populations of moose are required to have sufficient numbers of older females that are more productive, having twins, and in the occasional case triplets. Because populations of less than 100-133 moose cannot recover easily, it would be best to close hunting in the many populations in Manitoba that average 100-133 moose but there is a lack of political will to do so. Crichton advised making conservation a way of life (not just talking about it) and using a team approach to develop a shared management plan, putting science before politics. His discussion points with government include protecting cows and calves, enacting conservation closures on small populations, offering outfitters two or three bear tags per guided hunter, giving free bear and wolf tags to licensed Manitoba resident hunters, offering monetary incentives for registered trappers, closure of hunting of moose by non-resident hunters and removing packs of timber wolves from selected areas plus, of course significantly reducing the unregulated harvest.

Dr. Charles E. Kay, PhD, Wildlife Ecology, spoke about the lies, myths and scientific fraud surrounding wildlife issues in North America. Unlike most ecologists, Dr. Kay has spent a great amount of time studying the archaeological records as well as the journals of early western North American explorers. This has led him to conclude that the impact of Indigenous populations on large predators and on ungulates was far more important than previously thought since the human population size may have been underestimated. (He stated that some researchers now estimate 100 million Indigenous people in the Americas). Dr. Kay stated that large predators can have significant effects on prey for example; cougar studies have estimated an average kill of 50 deer per year while bears in Alaska also consume a significant number of moose and caribou calves. According to Parks Canada data, wolves and other predators are having a large effect in places like the Bow Valley and Park Canada’s Ya Ha Tinda Ranch in Alberta where elk numbers declined from 3000 prior to wolf decolonization to only around 300 today. In Yellowstone, wolves were released at three locations after computer modeling predicted there would be no significant impact on ungulates. The actual results, however are that the Northern Yellowstone elk herd which at its peak numbered more than 19,000 elk declined to a low of 3,000 while moose numbers are down to zero. Prior to the release of wolves, 5000 elk wintered In the Gros Ventre valley south of YNP, 3000 on feed and 2000 free ranging. However, today all of those elk are gone. Kay maintains that wolves have not lead to the restoration of deciduous ecosystems in Yellowstone as claimed in a widely seen video by a British videographer. In fact those few small areas that have shown some recovery of shrubs and trees were all at high elevation but all of the low and mid elevation areas with existing photographic records are still in poor condition. Thus, Dr. Kay concludes, the return of the wolf to Yellowstone is not an immediate means of restoring ecosystems which may require 60 years or more to occur. Dr. Kay also discussed predator-mediated competition where the addition of alternative prey species allows the predator to take the most vulnerable prey to very low levels or even extirpation. He discussed examples of predator–mediated competition between mule deer, elk and mountain lions on Elk Ridge in southern Utah, and caribou, moose and wolves across southern Canada.

Mr. Jim Beers, Biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (retired), outlined the problems that large predators are causing in many areas of the world including North America, Europe, Russia, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and India. Large predators chase, attack wound, kill and eat big game animals, cattle, sheep, dogs and even humans while also spreading infectious diseases. There is usually no documentation of how many occurrences of predator attacks and what was killed and thus there is confusion about the causes of declines of prey. Local communities could solve the problem of predation but far-away political entities in urban centres have become increasingly assertive about enforcing protection for predators. In settled landscapes, large predators will, when uncontrolled amongst abundant food sources, increase their densities until the total food supply dwindles as happened with wolves and moose on Isle Royale Island. Since the 1960’s, national governments both in the US and elsewhere have seized authority and jurisdiction over wildlife. With the support of scientists, wealthy supporters and the environmental/animal rights movement these issues have risen to the United Nations. Beers advised raising a fuss and putting pressure on government. Lobby the government to change the delegation of authority so that the responsibility for the management of big game in a local region is someone you can elect or remove at the next election. He also feels that revenue must be restored for conservation and not for non-game issues. Wildlife is an important natural resource, especially when local people can control wildlife and enhance its value for the local community.

Ken Sumanik


Kootenay Wildlife Heritage Fund

Please circulate to your contacts and have them forward to others.

Here are all the videos. Took a bit to export them and get them uploaded but it is all there now.

The links below are not searchable publicly yet and will only be available to people you share the links with.

Symposium Links to Individual Speakers

Big Game Symposium Interview Short

https://youtu.be/9UqIIJ1-Cgg

Big Game Symposium Interview Long

https://youtu.be/3RsvQ7P-KPk

Symposium Playlist

Symposium Playlist of all speakers and the interview videos.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAimGzgIpyXLqBa_ruOZspSMvkVIV4t6X

Symposium Links to Individual Speakers

Part 1 Mr. Carmen Purdy

https://youtu.be/mZjbGbJI-EA

Part 2 Mr. Ray Demarchi

https://youtu.be/nbXOuHU0rcM

Part 3 Dr. Val Geist

https://youtu.be/qcf2R6rq4JU

Part 4 Dr. Vince Crichton Doc Moose

https://youtu.be/XoCDiITC3CQ

Part 5 Dr. Charles E Kay

https://youtu.be/xTeWQtLzt-Q

Part 6 Mr. Jim Beers

https://youtu.be/WYR9Jy0pdss

Part 7 Mr. Ken Sumanik

https://youtu.be/mIuZKJ-5OLo