Hunting & outdoors guide | 2018
HUNTING & OUTDOORS GUIDE | 2018
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• Deer, Elk, Duck, Moose, Goose Calls • Rifle Slings • Ammunition • Gun Cases • Knives • Hunting Boots • Camouflage Clothing • Binoculars • Gun Cabinets • Camping Stoves • Flashlights & Lanterns • Kerosene • Naptha Gas • Propane
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BY FJ HURTAK It’s no secret that elk populations in the Kootenays are at some historic low numbers at present time. In the Rocky Mountain Trench for example, there are less than 7000 elk from Canal Flats in the North to the United States border in the South. Recent surveys have also shown that there are only 14 bulls per 100 cows. That ratio will likely include 25% spikes, 40-50% 5 point or less, and the remainder will be legal 6 point bulls during the rifle season (averages only). Therefore, opportunities to harvest a legal bull will be limited for most hunters this year. There are a wide variety of reasons why we have reached this point here in the East Kootenay, but that discussion will be saved for another time. This article is going to focus on how to give yourself the best opportunity to fill your elk tag this season. First though, let me say that if you are a veteran elk hunter, the tips I am going to provide are likely ones you already know well and are employing as part of your elk hunting strategies. However, hunters who have less than 3 years experience, and in particular, novices, just beginning their hunting career, may find these tips helpful. Pre- Season Scouting Finding hunting spots well before the season starts, that have elk already inhabiting the area, will greatly improve your odds for harvesting a legal bull this season. Naturally, you need to put in the time necessary to discover evidence that elk are using certain areas. Look for recent tracks, wallows, droppings, and fresh rubs. If you find such a place, you will already have a good idea where you want to be the first opportunity you get to be out in the woods, once the season begins. Of course, there is always a chance that someone else could be hunting your chosen spot once you get there. That is why it’s very important to have a couple of other similar locales in mind if that situation occurs. Again, it really comes down to time and effort to locate several potential good spots. Many are not prepared to work that hard or really don’t have that spare time to contribute, in the pre-season, but if you are one of those hunters that do, you will most certainly have an advantage over others who don’t. Practice Practice Practice Become intimately familiar with your weapon of choice before the season starts. That means practicing on a designated range with your rifle or bow, until you are totally comfortable where it will shoot at certain distances. This is common sense, but you would be surprised as to how many rifle hunters in particular I have chatted with over the years, that don’t bother checking their gun for accuracy before each and every season. “It was shooting good last year”, is the common rationale I have heard at times. Personally, I would never take that chance. Here’s a great example as to why. A few years back, I took an old friend out elk hunting. 4
HUNTING & OUTDOORS GUIDE | 2018
PHOTO BY LARRY TOOZE
He was still looking for his first-ever bull. My tag was already filled so I said that if we located a good bull I would stay back and do the calling, while he positioned himself 50 yards or so, in front of me. Good fortune smiled upon us that frosty September morning and shortly after daylight had arrived, we heard a bull bugle from the ridge just above our location. We made a wide circle with the wind in our favour and climbed the steep hill. I then sent my friend ahead as we had agreed and he assumed a position behind a large blowdown. As soon as I bugled, the bull screamed back and I instantly saw the bull move to the crest of the ridge. He was already less than 30 yards from my partner, and clearly had 6 points on one side for certain. It was a beautiful big bull. The moment of truth was at hand and the rifle shot I expected to hear pierced the morning air. The bull disappeared from my view and I already was contemplating the easiest route for us to pack the elk back out to the truck which was located about 2 kms away. I made my way down to my friend. Before I could say anything, he sheepishly blurted, “ I think I missed.” To make a long story short, he was right. He did miss a head or neck shot, from very close range. Neither one of us could believe that it was possible, so a couple hours later we set up a target 50 long strides away and fired a practice shot which missed the target altogether. A few days later he called me and said his girlfriend had admitted to somehow dropping the gun by accident a few months back, and forgot to tell him about it. He was some upset at her, BUT, things like that do happen, and had he checked the gun for accuracy at the range before we went out hunting, the situation could have been avoided completely and he would have easily filled his tag on a trophy bull. I think you will agree that we can can all learn from this bad experience and it is wise to check your weapon for accuracy as often as you can before the season begins. Bugling for Bulls This is a really good tip for new hunters who are not really confident with their calling techniques as of yet. A bull will usually let you get away with some mistakes when he is a good distance away. However, once he gets in close, bugling mistakes are not often tolerated by larger bulls. They will simply go silent and just move quietly away, thus ending your elk hunt for that day in quick fashion. So in close encounters, if you just revert to some of the newer cow elk calls on the market, as opposed to the bugle, your chances of spooking the bull will be somewhat less. Sometimes, the margin of error on wise old bulls is very slim, and there is no need to risk it, because modern day cow/calf calls are almost impossible to fluff. F.J. Hurtak is the author of the books, “Elk Hunting in the Kootenays”, and “Hunting the Antlered Big game of the Kootenays,” All profits from the books have gone to land for wildlife and habitat restoration in the Kootenay region.
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Please note that the Fernie Rifle Range is closed to the general public. For more information or to obtain a membership, please go to www.ferniergc.com or contact Kevin Marasco at firstname.lastname@example.org • Fernie Meat Market • Gear Hub in Fernie • Elk Valley Precision in Sparwood Trap Shooting now available at the FRGC Range Please check webite for days & times
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HUNTING & OUTDOORS GUIDE | 2018
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250-417-3310 • peakperformancecranbrook.ca
East Kootenay Big Game Club 63RD ANNUAL AWARDS BANQUET & WILDLIFE FUNDRAISER March 24, 2018, Cristoforo Colombo Lodge, Cranbrook
RIFLE: ADULT CATEGORY Typical Whitetail Deer 1st..... Chris Hill, Cranbrook scoring: 142 1/8 Typical Mule Deer 1st..... Chelsea Osterlund, Brisco scoring: 159 1/8 2nd ... Kurtis Lutzke, Cranbrook scoring: 158 1/8 Typical Elk Jeremy Benson, Cranbrook scoring: 304 0/8 Moose Kevin Roberts, Fernie scoring: 154 6/8 Bighorn Sheep 1st..... Darrell Hurley, Fernie Boone and Crockett Record Book scoring: 189 3/8 2nd ... Brady Annett, Cranbrook Boone and Crockett Record Book scoring: 183 2/8 Mountain Goat 1st..... Shawn MacDonald, Cranbrook scoring: 49 0/8 2nd ... Rob Taylor, Cranbrook scoring: 48 4/8 3rd .... Matt Willox, Invermere scoring: 47 4/8 3rd .... Mike Conroy, Cranbrook scoring: 47 4/8 4th .... Dennis Reghenas Jr., Sparwood scoring: 46 2/8 Black Beer 1st..... Ryan Farrow, Cranbrook scoring: 18 14/16 2nd ... Cheryl Petovello, Elko scoring: 18 7/16 Grizzly Beer 1st..... Daryl Donald, Cranbrook scoring: 22 5/16 2nd ... Jesse Faiers, Cranbrook scoring: 20 15/16 Cougar Jesse Faiers, Cranbrook scoring: 14 12/16 Wolf 1st..... Wayne Hunt, Elkford B.C. Provincial Record Book scoring: 17 1/16 2nd ... Ron Hrisook, Wasa B.C. Provincial Record Book scoring: 16 7/16 3rd .... Ron Hrisook, Wasa scoring: 15 4/16 4th .... Kurtis Lutzke, Cranbrook scoring: 15 1/16
OUT OF REGION
Moose 1st..... Dale Webber, Elkford Boone and Crockett & B.C. Provincial Record Book scoring: 213 0/8 Non Typical Elk 2nd ... Joe Romero, Cranbrook B.C. Provincial Record Book scoring: 372 4/8 Moose 3rd .... Dave Heathfield, Cranbrook B.C. Provincial Record Book scoring: 187 5/8 Black Bear 4th .... Bryce Pinchak, Sparwood B.C. Provincial Record Book scoring: 19 7/16 Stone Sheep 5th .... Brody Stroud, Cranbrook B.C. Provincial Record Book scoring: 163 1/8
OUT OF PROVINCE
1st..... Aaron McDonald, Jaffray Boone & Crockett Record Book scoring: 108 6/8
Antelope Mule Deer Antelope Antelope
2nd ... Kyle Southgate, Cranbrook scoring: 77 6/8 3rd .... John Armstrong, Cranbrook scoring: 179 7/8 4th .... Chris Hill, Cranbrook scoring: 72 2/8 4th .... John Armstrong, Cranbrook scoring: 71 4/8
HONOURABLE MENTION, OUT OF PROVINCE Black Bear
Ryan Pachara, Cranbrook B.C. Provincial Record Book scoring: 19 5/16 California Bighorn Sheep Dylan Forsyth, Elkford B.C. Provincial Record Book scoring: 152 0/8
Typical Whitetail Deer Typical Elk
Moose Bighorn Sheep Mountain Goat Black Beer
Ty Kolbeck, Cranbrook scoring: 116 2/8 1st..... Martin Keown, Cranbrook scoring: 288 1/8 2nd ... Melody Palmer, Canyon scoring: 240 6/8 Dustin Oakley, Cranbrook scoring: 118 6/8 Bryden Quaife, Cranbrook scoring: 153 0/8 Kurtis Oakley, Cranbrook scoring: 45 0/8 1st..... Austin Charette, Invermere B.C. Provincial Record Book scoring: 19 0/16 2nd ... Liam Kachman, Cranbrook scoring: 18 4/16 Hunter Pike, Invermere scoring: 15 0/16
OUT OF PROVINCE Typical Whitetail Deer
Had it not been for a group of local sportsmen in 1955 there would be no East Kootenay Big Game Club. These sportsmen felt the need to recognize and record the tremendous quality of big game taken each year in the East Kootenay as well as other regions in British Columbia and Canada. This past March the Club held it's 63rd annual awards banquet and wildlife fund-raiser with the theme " hunters giving back to wildlife"
To date we have donated over $155,000 for wildlife and vital land acquisitions. Thanks to our sponsors and the hunting fraternity for their continued support
Heidi Southgate, Cranbrook scoring: 119 4/8
ADULT ARCHERY CATEGORY Typical Whitetail Deer Cougar
Dallas Walkey, Cranbrook scoring: 123 2/8 Dallas Walkey, Cranbrook Pope & Young Record Book scoring: 14 0/16
OUT OF REGION ARCHERY
Typical Elk Sheldon Juricic, Cranbrook Pope & Young and B.C. Provincial Record Book scoring: 328 6/8
OUT OF PROVINCE ARCHERY
Non Typical Mule Deer Typical Mule Deer
Dallas Walkey, Cranbrook Pope & Young Record Book scoring: 210 3/8 Niki Walkey, Cranbrook Pope & Young Record Book scoring: 148 3/8
AGGREGATE TROPHY WINNERS Grand Aggregate Wolf
Wayne Hunt, Elkford scoring: 17 1/16 Out of Region Grand Aggregate Moose Dale Webber, Elkford scoring: 213 0/8 Out of Province Grand Aggregate Muskox Aaron McDonald, Jaffray scoring: 108 6/8 Archery Grand Aggregate Cougar Dallas Walkey, Cranbrook scoring: 14 0/8 Junior Grand Aggregate Black Bear Austin Charette, Invermere scoring: 19 0/16
Ray Carry Memorial (Best Mule Deer) Chelsea Osterlund, Brsico scoring: 159 1/8 Josh Anderson Memorial (Best Goat) Shawn MacDonald, Cranbrook scoring: 49 0/8
East Kootenay Big Game Club The Club sells annual memberships for $10 or life memberships for $100.
Please contact the following for more information Wade Oakley,
Club President 489-3936
Vice President 421-3645
Frank Cross Secretary/Treasurer Record Books and Life Memberships 489-3155 Wade Oakley for Regular Memberships 489-3936
The East Kootenay Big Game Club wishes its sportsmen a great 2018 hunting season!
HUNTING & OUTDOORS GUIDE | 2018
FOR HUNTING SEASON
Big game and migratory bird hunting is a billion-dollar industry that attracts millions of enthusiasts across North America. Nature-based tourism, along with resident and non-resident hunting, is big business in Canada. According to the Guide Outfitters Association of British Columbia, more than 5,000 hunters come to B.C. each year for guided hunting expeditions, which contributes $116 million to the provincial economy and provides roughly 2,000 jobs for guide-outfitting operations. Hunters provide a necessary service besides keeping game animal numbers within reason. They are the eyes and ears on the ground, and help inform science-based wildlife management decisions. Hunters are also heavily involved in supporting organizations such as conservation groups, habitat enhancement services and restoration efforts. The most up-to-date information on provincial hunting regulations can be found on the B.C. government website at www.gov.bc.ca. Provincial hunting regulations focus on topics such as general information, summarizing important regulations and defining open season with maps that indicate closed areas. When heading into the backcountry for a hunting trip, it’s important for hunters be well-prepared, both with the proper gear and knowledge of the area they will be hunting in. When organizing your pack for an expedition, consider bringing along a few must-have items, such as: Hunting knife No hunting expedition is complete without a quality knife, which is an invaluable tool. Knives come in different sizes. Many hunters carry a fixed blade knife to field dress a kill and for self-defense against larger animals. Everyday carry knives, or EDCs, also are another sound investment. EDCs may be paired with other gadgets to form a handy multitool, which is vital in many different applications. Trail markers/light strips Hunters and outdoor enthusiasts can mark their way to a hunting spot or tree stand and see the path in the dark thanks to illuminated light strips.
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This helps avoid getting lost at dusk and dawn. Hunting apparel Hunting apparel includes coats, pants, waders, boots, hats, gloves, and much more. Depending on the game to be hunted, attire can be patterned in camouflage to blend into surroundings or blaze orange to set hunters apart and make them more visible to fellow outdoorsmen. Deer cannot distinguish colour, so bright orange is commonly worn during deer season. Sales associates from outdoor equipment retailers can advise about appropriate attire. Considerations to habitat and weather should also be made. Storage pack Hunters require a lightweight, accessible pack that provides easy-to-reach storage. A variety of options are available, and there are even models that have a tree stand work shelf, rifle and bow mount, as well as a removable small items organizer. Swivelling bi- or tri-pod A small tripod can help hunters stay on moving game and remain steady for the shot. Pivoting or swivelling action keeps a hunter’s movement smooth and on target. Binoculars Every hunter can benefit from a good set of binoculars. High-quality binoculars will feature glare- and fog-resistant lenses. Tree stand A tree stand platform gives hunters the advantage of an elevated position, which offers better vantage points and keeps them out of the scent line of prey. Tree stands should be coupled with safety harnesses. Investing in quality hunting equipment can make for a higher success rate and greater comfort while engaging in a popular recreational and sporting hobby.
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Thousands of people across North America find hunting to be a rewarding pastime. People hunt many different types of animals, but deer are is one of the most popular options. Deer hunting is an enjoyable experience as they are a challenging animal that can spook at the slightest sound or movement. It’s important that hunters prepare themselves and purchase the appropriate equipment to protect themselves and make sure they are hunting in adherence to provincial regulations. Hunters should also make sure their firearms or bows are operational and clean and invest in equipment such as tree stands, binoculars, knives, ammunition, hunting blinds, shooting glasses, ear protection, processing kits (for field dressing), and hunting attire. To make themselves more visible to fellow outdoor enthusiasts out in the backcountry, hunters can and should wear clothing in blaze orange rather than camouflage. Hunters can visit fishing and game retailers for additional recommendations on gear and best hunting and angling practices. Autumn generally kickstarts deer hunting season in many areas of the United States and Canada. While frequently hunted for sport and trophy, game meat can be butchered and enjoyed throughout the winter months.Depending on the region in British Columbia, whitetail and mule deer, along with elk and moose, may be in season at the same time, which require the purchase of a hunting license and tags. The Hunting and Trapping Regulations Synopsis can provide specific information concerning firearm usage and hunting locations. Archery and youth hunting seasons often precede general firearm seasons. Licensing is widely necessary, and licenses can typically be acquired through local hunting and angling retailers as well as the B.C. government website at www.gov.bc.ca. Hunters are advised to check regulatory information prior to any hunting excursion.
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Is History Repeating Itself in the Kootenays? BY FJ HURTAK In the 1980’s, elk populations in the East Kootenay were likely close to, or even exceeded 30,000 animals (Demarchi-Wolterson 1991). The agricultural community was suffering serious crop losses, and their cattle were competing for forage on crown ranges in the region. Government directed wildlife staff here to reduce populations by one third. Naturally, they used their most available management tool, hunting, to help reach their objectives. The target of 20,000-25,000 was probably achieved in 1992, but populations continued to decline, due in part to the very liberal hunting harvest strategies, which continued through the 1995 season. The declining elk populations were characterized by low bull to cow ratios, low calf recruitment, and overall elk populations which were simply not acceptable to the outdoor community. It led to much public controversy. Does this sound familiar? Then came two back to back severe winters in 95/96 and 96/97, declining habitat and increasing predation. By the end of 1997, the elk population was estimated to be only 16,500, with bull to cow ratios of 12 bulls per 100 cows, and cow to calf ratios of 19 calves per 100 cows. In 1998, all hunting seasons for cow/calf elk were curtailed to assist population recovery. Wildlife harvest strategy of the past, stated that post season sex ratios for healthy populations needed to be at least 20 bulls per 100 cows and 25 calves per 100 cows. The red flags were waving high. So much so, that in 1998 the government had hired Dr. Ken Raedeke, a professional wildlife biologist who had extensive experience with elk, to conduct an independent assessment of elk harvest management in the region and province. When his report was completed, one of the main recommendations, was to develop a formal elk management plan for the East Kootenay to cover the period from 2000-2004. The existing management plan which had been prepared in 1985 was deemed no longer responsive to cur-
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HUNTING & OUTDOORS GUIDE | 2018
rent issues. I remember attending the planning workshops which were held with 47 interested stakeholder groups during the early part of 1999. Vision and goals were established and the objectives were set in place to restore and maintain appropriate elk sex and age ratios, and to maintain sufficient elk habitat to sustain populations at desired levels. In the spring of 2001 the much debated elk management plan was complete and I was given a copy back then by our Regional Wildlife Section Head Bob Forbes. At that time, due to curtailed hunting of cow and calf elk, and a 6 point only season on bulls, elk populations were rebounding already. The Plan estimated the East Kootenay ranges had the potential to support 24,400 elk. The two zones comprising most of the EK Trench were seen as potentially supporting 16,500 elk, the Elk Valley 3100 and Upper Columbia 4800. By 2008/09 elk populations were flourishing again and they continued to increase. The plans set in place were working and the Trench had population estimates at that time between 14-15,000 elk. Then, shortly thereafter, history did repeat itself in no uncertain terms. As in the early 90’s, local biologists were directed by Victoria to reduce by 35-40% what they referred to as “homesteader elk” (elk that supposedly didn’t migrate). They made no secret about the fact it was to appease the agricultural community in our region. Elk populations were deemed to be above management targets, and overgrazing winter ranges. Therefore, in 2010, a general open season on cow and calf elk was instituted in September at lower elevations. This was not an LEH season though, where management officials could control the number of permits. It was indeed unlimited, with little or no accurate estimates of the numbers which were being harvested. The seasons continued for all of the 2011 and 2012 hunting seasons and longer than that in the Elk Valley. Somewhere in between, spike bulls in lower elevations were also permitted to be harvested. Thousands upon thousands of
elk were killed and there is little question that the targets of 35-40% reductions by the Ministry had been exceeded and then some by 2011. Any veteran elk hunter will tell you these liberal seasons had a major impact on lower elevation elk, but high country elk as well, so much so, that some former high country elk havens are now almost completely devoid of elk populations. Therefore, it was no surprise to many people when the spring 2018 elk survey numbers were released to the public just a few months ago. Estimates indicated that only 6700-6900 elk remain now in the Southern East Kootenay Trench, from Canal Flats to the U.S. border, less than half of what we had ten years ago. Bull to cow ratios are only 14 bulls per 100 hundred cows, while 38 calves per 100 cows were counted. Over harvest, and predation are the two most commonly identified causative factors which have contributed to the decline…but there are many other contributing factors as well, and it’s where the comparison to the 80’s and 90’s is no longer relevant. Today there are much higher road densities, huge increases in wildlife fencing, some invasive plant species prevalent today that we did not have, or at least recognize 20-30 years ago, vastly increased highway and rail traffic resulting in higher ungulate
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mortality, and a much greater demand on the land base than ever before from industry and recreation opportunity proponents. Quality habitat or lack of, of course is a major factor in determining elk density in any given management unit. Another major difference between yesteryear and now, is the fact that in the 90’s, once elk harvest on cows and calves was reduced substantially, populations started to increase in ensuing years. That has not happened this time around even though antlerless seasons were curtailed somewhat a few years ago.This year, to help address the issue at hand, all but a mere handful of antlerless elk permits are available, the spike bull season has been dropped completely, and there appears to be a much greater focus on the impacts of predation by wildlife biologists. It is however, going to take much more than a few regulation changes to reverse the downward trend in elk populations and other ungulates as well. First and foremost, the government must recognize that wildlife management and the resource itself needs to be made a priority in the province. Wildlife has been neglected for a very long time. That much discussed new wildlife funding model for B.C. has to become a reality and the sooner the better. Effective population management depends on Managers having access to accurate and up to date population parameters for ALL species including predators. It is absolutely unacceptable for anyone to ask biologists to attempt to properly manage wildlife with analytics which are 4 or 5 years old especially when one has general open seasons on the female component of a species. That includes Whitetail does, but that discussion is for another time. The risk of over harvest is very high, and the results combined with other factors has proven disastrous in the past. We need to learn from those past mistakes moving forward. We do need more funding for habitat restoration which includes substantive treatment of invasive plants on ungulate winter ranges, and valuable research projects need to be initiated so we can confidently assess the direct causes of ungulate mortality. Decisions which are based solely on current science, not politics need to be the order of the day when it comes to wildlife management. The question is, will this government or the next one comply with what really needs to be done? Let’s hope so, for the benefit of one of BC’s most precious resources….its wildlife. F.J. Hurtak is the author of the books “Elk Hunting in the Kootenays” and “Hunting the Antlered Big Game of the Kootenays”. All profits from the books have gone to land for wildlife and habitat restoration in the Kootenay region.
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HUNTING & OUTDOORS GUIDE | 2018
Ministry Announces Plans to Promote Recovery of
BY FJ HURTAK In June of this year, the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development held a well-attended public meeting at Cranbrook’s Heritage Inn, to share data they have collected thus far, and to garner public input on the diminishing bighorn sheep herd in the Bull River area. (MU-4-22) At the meeting, biologists released information stating that sheep numbers have NOT decreased due to M.ovi bacteria. M.ovi is a shortened version of Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae. It is a pathogen that can cause severe pneumonia resulting in death of bighorn sheep. The disease can be contracted through contact with domestic sheep and goats. There are several domestic sheep ranches in the Bull River area, and the East Kootenay has the dubious distinction of having the highest incidence of the M.ovi bacteria in domestic sheep sampled in the entire province. However, the testing program, led by contract biologist Jeremy Ayotte, found no evidence of the disease in the Bull River sheep herd. So, the question is, “Where do we go from here?” Doing nothing is not really an option, and failure to act now, may soon put the Bighorn sheep in the same dire position as mountain caribou. There were many good comments and suggestions put forward by the audience at the meeting. To give biologists an opportunity to digest all the feedback they received from the public, I waited a few weeks before I contacted our local Ministry office for an interview. They agreed and here is the interview in its entirety. Question: Now that you have ruled disease a non-factor to population declines in this management unit, what measures are you looking at to try and rebuild the herd? (120 animals in 2012-less than 50 in 2018)
Answer: We recently received funding to develop a regional management plan that will assess current population status for each sheep herd, establish population objectives and prioritize recovery actions. We also have several projects on the go to help sheep populations. For example we are currently working on a 5 year project funded by HCTF and FWCP-UKEEP to attempt to increase the quality of grasslands by reducing invasive plant coverage and increasing forage species on portions of Bull River and Wigwam Flats bighorn sheep winter ranges. We will also continue with research into health, movements and mortality of Bull River bighorn sheep that Jeremy Ayotte is leading (HCTF project) and continue to work with BC Sheep Separation Program to attempt to reduce risk of disease transmission between domestic sheep and goats and wild sheep. We will continue to work with Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to attempt to reduce highway mortalities of bighorn sheep at Salmo/ Creston, Elko and Radium. Question: Do you think predation has caused the recent decline of bighorn sheep in Bull River? If so, what can be done to reduce the risk of predation? Answer: There are usually only 2 reasons why bighorn sheep populations decline substantially and quickly: disease or predation. We tested 13 Bull River bighorn sheep for M.ovi and all were negative for this strain of bacteria which indicates that respiratory disease transmitted from domestic sheep was not the cause of the decline. Cougar populations have gone through a cycle of high abundance in the East Kootenay and research has shown that 1 or 2 cougars can have a major impact on small sheep herds so it is plausible that predators caused or contributed to the
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HUNTING & OUTDOORS GUIDE | 2018
decline. Managing predators on winter ranges may be effective to reduce predation risk if there are individual cougars targeting sheep and cougar seasons were recently adjusted to enable harvest later in the winter when sheep are most vulnerable. Wildlife and habitat staff are also initiating a habitat restoration project in the Bull River to improve sight lines so sheep are better able to detect and evade predators. Question: After predation, invasive plants, and lack of adequate habitat restoration, were also mentioned as some possible contributing causes to the recent declines. Do you agree, and if so, what management actions or plans do you have in place to address these issues? Answer: Reduced quality of habitat can result in bighorns utilizing habitats where they are more prone to predation. However the GPS radio-collar data indicates that bighorn sheep are still utilizing much of their historical winter range. The Bull River does not have much escape terrain so bighorn sheep are susceptible to predation in many areas. The quality of the winter range is currently compromised by invasive plants. We are in the process of chemically treating a portion of the winter range and thus far results have been excellent. However this is only a short term solution and we are looking at seeding/fertilizing as longer term solutions. In addition some small scale conifer removal is planned for slopes above the hatchery; range condition at this location is still quite healthy. Question: In your opinion, what impact are domestic cattle having, as a result of grazing on the bighorn sheep’s winter range? Some people have suggested that all crown cattle grazing should be suspended in that management unit, until such time as sheep herds start to recover and habitat condition improves. Answer: Range Act grazing tenures are an integral part of integrated land use here in the East Kootenay. Wildlife, Habitat and Range staff at the Ministry of Forests Lands Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development work collaboratively to sustainably manage our natural resources. Integrated management, including stakeholder engagement and landscape level management approach that addresses our core values will help to provide better outcomes, solutions and management for our natural resources.
Question: There is a theory floating about, that over-hunting of cow/calf elk and whitetail does over the past few seasons has resulted in a very dramatic decrease of prey species for cougars and wolves in particular. Therefore these predators have turned their attention to other available species like bighorn sheep. What are your thoughts on this subject? Answer: Deer and elk are the primary prey items of cougars but predation on bighorn sheep is also common. Research has shown that a single cougar can have a major impact on a bighorn sheep herd once it has learned to target bighorn sheep. There are several examples of bighorn sheep populations declining substantially from cougar predation. Bighorn sheep are especially vulnerable where their winter ranges overlap those of deer and elk. Deer and elk attract cougars to the winter range and if a cougar encounters a bighorn sheep while hunting for deer or elk, the sheep will be predated. Even in systems with an abundance of deer and elk on the landscape, some cougars inevitably learn to prey on bighorn sheep and can have substantial impacts on small populations. To protect small bighorn sheep herds from further declines, previous research recommends reduced predator numbers within the home range of the bighorn sheep herds. Question: What population objectives do you have in place, for the Bull River herd, and other management units in the area that have bighorn populations? Answer: Population objectives for Bull River would be approximately 90-100 bighorn sheep depending on if we can improve range condition and reduce the risk of potential disease spread from domestic sheep and goats to bighorn sheep. This question will be answered in more detail in the future regional bighorn sheep management plan. Thanks, for providing your insights on an issue that certainly concerns many people in the East Kootenay Region. We all hope that a workable solution can be achieved in the very near future. F.J. Hurtak is the author of the books “Elk Hunting in the Kootenay’s” and “Hunting the Antlered Big Game of the Kootenay’s.” All profits from the books have gone directly to land for wildlife and habitat restoration in the Kootenay region.
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HUNTING & OUTDOORS GUIDE | 2018
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HUNTING & OUTDOORS GUIDE | 2018
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Who is the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA)? Big game needs big country and fish need cold clean water. There is no other organization solely focused on protecting the wild places we so cherish. The conservation legacy that we enjoy today didn’t happen by accident, it is our duty to pass on our heritage to future generations. Momentum has never been stronger for Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. Membership in this exciting organization has doubled every year for the past 4 years. BHA is the fastest growing conservation organization in North America and this was illustrated at the seventh annual North American Rendezvous held in Boise Idaho April 12-15, 2018. In front of a sold out convention, Land Tawney, CEO and President of BHA announced the following stats; “BHA was founded around an Oregon campfire in 2004. This campfire has now turned into a raging forest fire. Five years ago the Rendezvous was held in Denver and BHA had 1000 members. Last year the Rendezvous was held in Missoula Montana and BHA boasted 10,000 members. This year in Boise, BHA has surpassed 20,000 members across North America and now has chapters in 39 states and 2 Canadian provinces with more jurisdictions in cue to join our ranks. Yukon Canada is in the works to be the next chapter to join this raging inferno. We are on target to surpass 30,000 members by the end of 2018.” Since it’s formation in May 2014, the BC Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BCBHA) has mirrored this incredible growth. In just over four years the group has grown from 12 concerned hunters and anglers in the East Kootenay to almost 400 members located in all parts of the province. “One of the really positive things we’ve seen is the demographic of our new members, they are young, enthusiastic and seem to really embrace the philosophy that the long term sustainability of the resource is the most important thing of all”, said Bill Hanlon, BC chapter chair. “It is great to see a new generation stepping up to fight for the conservation legacy of hunters and anglers in this province.” In 2018 the group established new regional tables in the West Kootenay, the Lower Mainland and Central BC to help spread BCBHA’s influence across the province. They also hosted pint nights in Cranbrook, Trail, Kelowna, Prince George and a Filson Campfire Storytelling event in Vancouver. A pint night was also held in Whitehorse to help establish a Yukon chapter that would be the third Canadian Chapter. BCBHA members have been actively participating in local, regional and provincial conservation issues including the control of noxious weeds on winter ranges; petitioning government to implement appropriately funded, science-based fish and wildlife management plans, opposing the disposition of critical winter ranges and grasslands to private power producers and voicing concerns
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about several giant recreational tenures in the Purcells, just to mention a few. The chapter hosted its 3rd annual Boots on the Ground Habitat Enhancement Work Party at the Nature Trust of BC’s Sheep Mountain Conservation Property south of Elko this past May. BCBHA has also established partnerships with other environmental, conservation and wildlife groups to put habitat first and raise public awareness about the need for science-based conservation in this province. “We are at a crossroads in BC for wildlife, either we step up and change how we manage wildlife in BC or wildlife and habitat will continue to degrade at an alarming rate”, said Hanlon. “After all, at Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, hunting and fishing isn’t what we do, it’s who we are in British Columbia”. The East Kootenay committee meets the second Tuesday of every month at the Heritage Inn in Cranbrook at 7:00pm. Next meeting is scheduled for October. You can follow us on Facebook and Instagram or join us at http://www.backcountryhuntersbc.com/ Backcountry Hunters & Anglers seeks to ensure North America’s outdoor conservation heritage of hunting and fishing in a natural setting, through education and work on behalf of wild public lands and waters. We are “boots on the ground” hunters and anglers, standing up for quiet experiences in wild habitats, entirely removed from the disturbance of crowds and machines.
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"Promoting science based conservation in the East Kootenay: EKWA/BCWF Affiliated clubs Fernie Rod and Gun Club .......... 250 423 1546 President: Kevin Marasco Lake Windermere District Rod and Gun Club......................250 342 9482 President: Rick Hoar Sparwood Fish and Wildlife Association................................250 425 4275 President: Darren Reghenas Elkford Rod and Gun Club ..........250 946 5320 President: Joshua M.L. Elvin Canal Flats Wilderness Club .......250 349 5478 President: Dave White Golden District Rod and Gun Club ................................(250) 344-3245 President: Ron Nemecek
EKWA Affiliated clubs East Kootenay Hunters Association (Cranbrook)
East Kootenay Wildlife Association “East Kootenay Region - BC Wildlife Federation” Box 1324, Fernie, BC V0B 1M0
President - Glenn Flynn 250-688-0595 www.bcwf.bc.ca
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Visit www.bcwf.bc.ca to learn more.
HUNTING & OUTDOORS GUIDE | 2018