Mitigating Risk Of Predation
Can managers avoid creating new, special regulatory policy on reduction of wolves for the purpose of
caribou recovery in BC? In collaboration with other researchers, we are testing the efficacy of two
currently available policies that could support recovery of caribou: (1) directed and focused operation
of regulated trap lines and (2) an enhanced hunter-harvest of moose.
Because no special management is occurring or planned within the Wolverine caribou herd area, monitoring
caribou population changes that occur there can be used as a baseline to assess the effect of trapping
(Chase herd area) and the enhanced harvest of moose (Parsnip herd area). While Peace-Williston Fish and
Wildlife Compensation program is monitoring the hunter-harvest, Wildlife Infometrics is monitoring the
effects wolf removal. This past year, we tested several models that predict relative safety for caribou
from their predators as a way to potentially guide trappers to locations where small scale reduction of
wolf numbers may provide the best management payoff. For more on this topic, and the research we are
conducting, see WII Report No. 274.
Indicator Targets For Coarse Woody Debris
Many wildlife depend on coarse woody debris (CWD) for forage, nesting, or shelter. The diverse soil and
litter food web functions through the interaction of soil fungi, microbes, and invertebrates that cause
nutrient cycling and decomposition. Retention of CWD during logging operations in the Mackenzie Defined
Forest Area (DFA) is based on default values from current regulations but the local Public Advisory Group
considers these requirements to lack sensitivity to variation in ecosystems. We reviewed the function of
CWD, its importance to wildlife, forestry practices designed to maintain CWD, baseline targets set by
legislation, and those established in other SFM plans. We also summarized available data from natural
forest ecosystems and on the basis of this research, recommended targets to guide forest licensees on the
amount of CWD to be retained by ecological management unit. For detail on this analysis see WII Report 263.
Using Historic Data To Inform Today's Decisions
The Wolverine and Chase caribou herds in north-central British Columbia have been studied since the late
1980’s but much of the collected data remains unpublished. In 2007, with the support of the FIA—Forest
Science Program, we undertook a 2-year project to work with much of the historic data and make the
information and knowledge that has resulted from the studies become more available through technical
publications. For example, there have been a dozen or so surveys conducted to estimate population size
but each survey was conducted slightly differently and interpretation and comparison of the results was
not easily done. We gathered the data and put each survey on equal footing to come up with estimates.
We gathered the data and put each survey on equal footing
of population sizes that are comparable between the two herds and across years. We hope to publish this
report within the next few months thereby making the information more widely available. Other topics
of analysis have been concerned with survival rates, synchronicity of calving, patterns in movement and
seasonal range selection, habitat supply modeling, establishment of protection for winter ranges, and
other aspects of conservation management. We will be attempting to keep our web page up-to-date with
these publications as they become available.
Recent Publications And Presentations
McNay, R.S., D. Heard, R. Sulyma, and R. Ellis. 2008. A recovery action plan for northern caribou herds in
north-central British Columbia. FORREX Special Report Series 22.
McNay, R.S. and L. Giguere. In Prep. Population estimates and distribution of the Wolverine and Chase caribou
herds in north-central British Columbia. BC Journal of Ecosystems and Management. xx:xxx-xxx.
McNay, R.S., R. Ellis, R. Sulyma, and B. Arthur. In Prep. Using forecasts of caribou habitat to inform land
management decisions in north-central British Columbia. BC Journal of Ecosystems and Management.
McNay, R.S. In Prep. Spatial characteristics of predation risk for woodland caribou in north-central British
Columbia. Peace/Williston Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program Report No. xx.
Publications and In-House Reports in Preparation
- Caribou & wolves: testing the relationship. Brochure No. 027.
- Abundance and distribution of woodland caribou in the Wolverine and Chase recovery plan areas. Report No. 272.
- Preliminary assessment of two techniques for estimating the relative abundance and spatial distribution of
wolves. Report No. 275.
- Monitoring the distribution of radio-collared caribou and wolves in north-central British Columbia. Report No. 276.
- Potential implications of beetle-killed timber salvage on the integrity of caribou winter range. Poster No. 030.
- Potential implications of beetle-killed timber salvage on the integrity of caribou winter range. Report No. 273.
- Mitigating risk of predation for woodland caribou in north-central British Columbia. Report No. 274.
- Potential population responses to linear corridor development in the Chase caribou herd area, north-central
British Columbia. Report No. 237.
- Spatial characteristics of predation risk for woodland caribou in north-central British Columbia. Report No. 233.
- Refinement and verification of a model to predict high elevation winter range for woodland caribou in
north-central British Columbia. Report No. 265.
- Reassessing the supply of northern caribou seasonal range types in north-central British Columbia. Report No. 279.
- Using Bayesian models to identify mule deer ungulate winter ranges in the Fort St. James Forest District. Report No. 271
- Indicator Targets and Management Recommendations for Retention of Coarse Woody Debris in the Mackenzie Defined Forest
Area, North-central British Columbia. Report No. 263.
- Developing Baseline Data of Tree Species Composition in Unmanaged and Managed Forests by BEC Zone/Subzone/Variant in the
Mackenzie Defined Forest Area. Report No. 278.