Moose population numbers have declined in the Bulkley Valley and Lakes District between 2004 and 2012.

Survey shows moose population decline in Bulkley Valley, Lakes

Moose in the Bulkley Valley and Lakes District are likely still recovering from a hard winter five years ago.

Moose in the Bulkley Valley and Lakes District are still recovering from a hard winter five years ago.

That is the most likely reason why a January survey shows roughly 12,600 moose in the region—a 20 per cent decline from the 15,800 estimate of 2004.

The decline come as no surprise to Skeena hunters or biologists.

“The good news for us is that basically these are the numbers we’ve been using for two years,” says Mark Williams, a senior wildlife biologist with B.C.’s natural resources ministry.

“That meant that we didn’t really need to make big changes to the hunting regulations.”

While the survey report doesn’t point to any one cause, Williams said moose surveys in the Omineca and Cariboo show similar declines, suggesting that environmental causes such as the hard winter of 2006/2007 are the likeliest culprit.

“That winter, the snow came early and it came hard,” he said.

Ron Fitch, a guide-outfitter based in Houston, remembers what a tough winter that was, especially for moose in the alpine.

“The calves just couldn’t move around,” he said. “There was five or six feet of snow up higher, and even four feet here in the lower elevations around Houston.”

Since then, Fitch said he’s seen and heard more wolves than he has in 38 years of guiding.

“Every wolf cub had lots to eat that winter,” he said.

Denys Bell, co-chair of the Skeena Hunters Advisory Committee (SHAC), said while tags are slightly down for limited entry hunting, especially in areas around Burns Lake, bow hunting and general open season for moose remain the same.

“Yes, there’s been an adjustment to the population of moose, but we shouldn’t be surprised,” he said.

“Mother Nature works on peaks and valleys. She doesn’t work like taxes do, which go up nicely all the time.”

Looking ahead, Bell and Fitch expect moose will recover, especially after extra logging in beetle-killed pine stands creates more of the open habitat where moose thrive.

To track such changes, Bell hopes the province funds a moose survey every five years—a pattern it slipped out of with the last two.

“They were seven years apart, which was an unfortunate thing,” Bell said.

“We really did push the government to do it in 2009, but they had other priorities.”

While he can’t forecast where the provincial budget will be five years from now, Williams said moose inventories are a particularly high priority for the Bulkley Valley and Lakes area.

Not only is there strong demand for hunting, he said the amount of other human activity in the backcountry here requires some of the closest management in B.C.

“For all those reasons, I’m pretty confident that five or six years from now there will be lots of support to do another moose inventory,” he said, noting that each survey costs about $100,000.

When that next survey is done, Williams said he expects it will show area moose doing well.

“I feel that the moose population is healthy—we’ve got a good calf to cow ratio,” he said.

“Based on that, I feel that the population is probably stable or slowly increasing.”

 

Just Posted

Coastal GasLink awards contract for camp near Burns Lake

Local residents to be consulted before location is picked

Houston prepares for projected growth

Transportation Master Plan anticipates traffic increase

Houston’s Pleasant Valley Plaza to host information session about bitcoin

Locals will have a chance to ask questions about the proposed farm

Northwest firefighters deployed to eastern Canada

They will help with fire suppression efforts in Ontario and Quebec

Work “well underway” for shared revenue in northwest B.C.

Resource Benefits Alliance developing proposal for the province

BC Games: Dance, spoken-word highlights at Opening Ceremony in Cowichan

Hundreds of athletes and thousands of volunteers, coaches, parents and officials

Police to provide update on case against alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur

McArthur worked as a landscaper, allegedly concealed the remains of seven men in planters

Premiers to wrap up 2 days of meetings at New Brunswick seaside resort

Meetings held in the scenic seaside town of St. Andrews on Thursday focused on trade

B.C. city wants pot punted from farmland

Concerned about conversion from growing food to making marijuana

World’s translators push back on forcing Trump interpreter to testify

Democrats had asked translator to testify about Trump’s lengthy conversation with Putin in Helsinki

No decision on B.C. school stabbing suspect’s mental fitness for trial

The BC Review Board could not determine whether Gabriel Klein, 21, is fit to stand trial

Canadian government threatens to retaliate if Trump imposes auto tariffs

U.S president had suggested that auto imports pose a national security risk to the U.S.

Wildfire evacuation order forces bride to search for new wedding venue

Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards is under an order due to the Mount Eneas wildfire south of Peachland

Most Read