Notes & Interests 

Wildlife Stewardship Council

In early September, five members of the WSC’s Board of Directors met with Premier Horgan in Victoria. WSC’s President John Henderson was joined by Directors Raf De Guevara, Glenn Venus, Lorna Mikkelson and Dave Fyfe for an afternoon session with the Premier to discuss a variety of important topics around wildlife management in B.C. Director of Wildlife Jen Psyllakis was also in attendance for the meeting. John Henderson explained the mission of the WSC in bringing together First Nations, with instructions from the Chiefs and Council, to work in partnership with guide outfitters, government and other groups for the benefit of wildlife. He recounted how far too many wildlife and habitat management decisions have been made with little or no First Nations input, while others have been invited to various provincial tables to address management issues in isolation from affected First Nations communities. This is being done under the guise of a “parallel process” whereby First Nations and non-First Nations representatives are, by design, being segregated by government while consultation occurs. We shared with the Premier the folly of such a process, and how it has lead to a myriad of problems and failed management decisions. Raf clearly articulated his perspective that the work of the WSC is what reconciliation looks like, with the broader communities coming together in a collaborative, shared decision-making process. The Premier was informed that the WSC’s roundtable approach is being implemented in several regions of the province with good results, and that our vision is to expand this model to every region of the province. There was also discussion around the challenges of predator management in BC, in particular the grizzly bear closure. We highlighted the fact that there was insufficient consultation with First Nations around the effects of the closure, most notably​ with the ​Nisga’a and their substantial investment in​ a​ guiding territory. We also had time to touch on the effects of removing the ability​ of provincial staff to manage large carnivores. The government’s own scientists support the grizzly bear hunt​ in specific areas of the province where ungulates such as moose, caribou and elk can directly benefit from a limited harvest of bears. ​The Premier was surprised to learn that there are now dozens of grizzlies on Vancouver Island which will inevitably result in attacks and fatalities in the coming months if the public is not made aware of the danger. Finally, the WSC informed the Premier that there is strong support for the work of the WSC and expanding our reach throughout the province, but that provincial funding will be required to broaden our footprint. The WSC will be preparing a ​funding proposal for Ministry staff in the coming months to assure that sufficient funding is acquired.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Presentation

On Friday, August 23rd the Wildlife Stewardship Council, with the generous support of KDC Health, welcomed Wildlife Veterinarian Helen Schwantje and Wildlife Health Biologist Cait Nelson to Campbell River. Both Helen and Cait have dedicated numerous hours to ensuring that proactive steps are taken in British Columbia to try and minimize the effect of CWD on our cervids, and in our habitat. Throughout the presentation, both Helen and Cait spoke about what CWD is, how it spreads, and how everyone can help take preventative measures to try and help. The audience that attended the presentation was a mix of guide outfitters, First Nations hunters and resident hunters. Based on the potential for the spread of CWD into BC’s ungulate populations, as well as the hands-on demonstrations – everyone was able to take away information and tips that can be very helpful for future diagnosis of BC cervids at risk. In the late Spring, a deer tested positive for CWD in Libby, Montana – a mere 60 miles from the BC border. This disease is particularly worrisome as it is difficult to detect and has a tendency to spread from its point of origin to the broader population of deer in an area. Because of this, it isimportant that the Province of BC have a focus on prevention. When an animal is infected with CWD – the prions (abnormal proteins) have a unique characteristic of becoming heat resistant and are very long lasting. These prions will attack the central nervous system, and eventually result in holes within the cervid’s brain. The disease is also transmitted through the prions, as they are shed through saliva, urine and feces. There is no practical way to destroy prions, or detect them in the environment. In order to destroy the prions – the carcass must be incinerated to a temperature of over 600 degrees Fahrenheit. In order to have the disease diagnosed, Helen, Cait and their team will inject the brain tissue with dye (subject must be deceased) and have the tissues sampled. All of the samples are sent to the University of Saskatchewan for testing. Currently, only the species in the deer family are susceptible to CWD, and it has mainly impacted white tail and mule deer. At this time, the disease is always fatal as there is no treatment or vaccine. Both Helen and Cait urge everyone that spends time in the wild and around these animals to observe their behaviors and to report sick animals. The best type of assistance they can receive is actual deer heads that testing can be done on. The Wildlife Stewardship Council will be sponsoring deep freezers at local drop off points for test subjects to be received.

If you have any questions, or are interested in helping with more preventative measures, please email and we will be happy to put you in touch with the appropriate provincial biologists.