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Wildlife Conservation In BC and Canada

Wildlife Conservation In BC and Canada

Wildlife Conservation In BC and Canada

The concept of wildlife conservation has been around since ancient times. Today, wildlife conservation has evolved into a science, and the goal remains the same to ensure wise use and management of renewable resources. Given the right circumstances, the living organisms that we call renewable resources can replenish themselves indefinitely.

Lessons in Wildlife Management

  • It is difficult to cite the beginning of conservation in Canada. First Nations peoples possessed spiritual beliefs that, whether deliberately environmental or not, restrained their exploitation of nature.
  • Early European settlers enacted localized game laws designed to protect bird and wildlife species from overhunting. But there was a general, well-established belief in North America in the “myth of superabundance“:
    • that resources were so vast as to be inexhaustible.
  • The late 19th century saw the emergence of what has been called “the first conservation movement.” This movement has been linked to a growing trust in scientific management and a shift in control of resources from rural people to urban elites.
    • The 1882 American Forestry Congress in Montreal, which brought together university-trained foresters and industry leaders to discuss forest conservation, supported forest protection through fire suppression, the creation of reserves for forestry (not reserves from forestry) and other measures which tended to favour large industrial interests more than small woodlot operators
  • A similar trend can be seen in WILDLIFE CONSERVATION, with urban people who saw wildlife in sporting terms creating restrictive hunting seasons and expensive licenses, while rural inhabitants who relied upon wildlife for subsistence or livelihood were obliged to conform.

Habitat Management

  • The most essential aspect of wildlife management is habitat management. Habitat loss presents the greatest threat to wildlife.
  • Habitat management safeguards the essential elements to meet these needs:
    • Food and water are necessary for all wildlife.
    • Cover protects animals from predators and the weather while they feed, breed, roost, nest, and travel. Cover ranges from thick weeds and brush to a few rocks piled together.
    • Space is necessary for adequate food among wildlife, territorial space for mating and nesting, and freedom from stress-related diseases.
    • Arrangement of these elements ideally allows animals to meet these needs in a small area to minimize energy use while fulfilling their basic needs.
    • Edge effect refers to the consequence of placing two contrasting ecosystems adjacent to one another. Most animals locate where food and cover meet, particularly near water. An example would be a river bottom, which offers many animals all their habitat needs along one corridor.

Carrying Capacity

  • Resources in any habitat can support only a certain quantity of wildlife. As seasons change, food, water, or cover may be in short supply. Carrying capacity is the number of animals the habitat can support all year long. The carrying capacity of a certain tract of land can vary from year to year, changed by nature or humans.
  • Factors that limit potential production of wildlife include:
    • disease and parasites; starvation; predators; pollution; accidents; old age; and hunting.
  • If the conditions are balanced, game animals will produce a surplus, which can be harvested on an annual, sustainable basis.

The Hunter’s Role in Wildlife Conservation

  • Since wildlife is a renewable resource with a surplus, hunters help keep wildlife populations at a healthy balance for the habitat. Regulated hunting has never led to threatened or endangered wildlife populations.
  • Hunting is an effective wildlife management tool. Hunters play an important role by providing information from the field that wildlife managers need.
  • Funding from hunting licenses has helped many game and non-game species recover from dwindling populations.
  • Hunters spend more time, money, and effort on wildlife conservation than any other group in society. In addition to participating in the harvest of surplus animals, hunters help sustain game populations by:
    • Filling out questionnaires
    • Participating in surveys
    • Stopping at hunter check stations
    • Providing samples from harvested animals
    • Funding wildlife management through license fees

Wildlife Management and Conservation Principles

A wildlife manager’s job is to maintain a number of animals in a habitat at or below the habitat’s carrying capacity, so no damage is done to the animals or to the habitat.

  • The wildlife manager’s task is similar to the rancher’s. Just as ranchers limit the number of animals in a cattle herd to the level that the habitat can tolerate, wildlife managers keep the number of animals in balance with their habitat. In addition to looking at the total number of each species in the habitat, wildlife managers also monitor the breeding stock the correct mix of adult and young animals needed to sustain a population.
    • To manage habitats, wildlife managers consider historical trends, current habitat conditions, breeding population levels, long-term projections and breeding success. With that knowledge, wildlife managers have a variety of practices to keep habitats in balance.
  • Wildlife Management Practices
    • Monitoring Wildlife Populations:
      • Wildlife managers continuously monitor the birth rate and death rate of various species and the conditions of their habitat. This provides data needed to set hunting regulations and determine if other wildlife management practices are needed to conserve species.
    • Habitat Improvement:
      • As succession occurs, the change in habitat affects the type and number of wildlife that the habitat can support. Wildlife managers may cut down or burn forested areas to promote new growth and slow down the process of succession. This enables them to increase the production of certain species.
    • Hunting Regulations:
      • Hunting regulations protect the habitat and preserve animal populations. Regulations include setting daily and seasonal time limits, bag limits, and legal methods for taking wildlife.
    • Hunting:
      • Hunting is an effective wildlife management tool. Hunting practices help managers keep animal populations in balance with the habitat.
    • Predator Control:
      • In rare instances, predators must be reduced to enable some wildlife populations to establish stable populations, particularly threatened or endangered species.
    • Artificial Stocking:
      • Restocking of game animals has been successful in many parts of the nation. Trapping animals in areas where they are abundant and releasing to other suitable habitat is an example of restocking.
    • Controlling or Preventing Disease and Its Spread:
      • The disease can have a devastating effect on wildlife. Avian cholera, for example, poses a serious threat, especially to ducks and geese on crowded wintering grounds. Once avian cholera occurs, managers must work to prevent spread by daily gathering and burning waterfowl carcasses.
    • Management Funds/Programs:
      • In addition to Pittman-Robertson funds, many states have initiated programs that help finance conservation efforts.

Wildlife Identification

  • Developing wildlife identification skills is a basic requirement for hunters. Mistakes can lead to the illegal harvest of a game or non-game animals. To identify game properly, you must learn to recognize key characteristics of the animal you’re hunting.
  • Identifying animals accurately is a skill that improves with experience. Sometimes, the difference between animals in the same species is subtle, such as the size of ears or a distinctive colouring. Recognizing tracks, scat, food sources, and habitat types can also help identify animals.
  • A variety of print and visual resources are available to help increase your knowledge of wildlife.
  • Wild animals are generally divided into five groups: large mammals; small mammals; upland birds; waterfowl and wetland birds; and birds of prey. Each group may include species that are “threatened” or “endangered.”
    • Large Mammals Typically include horned animals, antlered animals, bears, and large members of wild cat or dog families.
    • Small Mammals Examples are rabbits and squirrels. Some are sought after primarily for their pelts, such as fox and mink. • Upland Birds Examples are turkey, grouse, quail, and pheasants. “
    • “Upland” refers to where they are often found. They have short, rounded wings good for short flights and strong legs for running.
    • Waterfowl and Wetland Birds Waterfowl are birds that live on or near water and include diving ducks and puddle ducks. Wetland birds live close to the water in marshy and coastal areas and include cranes and pelicans.
    • Birds of Prey Feed on other birds or mammals. Examples are eagles, falcons, and owls. Found throughout North America.
  • Within each group, there may be species that are “threatened” or “endangered.”
    • Some are protected from hunting because their numbers are small and they produce no surplus to harvest. • Animals labelled “threatened” or “endangered” are protected by federal law.
  • Characteristics of Mammals
    • Warm-blooded animals with hair. Young nourished with milk from mother.
    • Carnivorous (meat eating), herbivorous (plant eating), or omnivorous (meat and plant eating).
    • Seek to regulate their temperature.
    • Small mammals generally live shorter lives than large mammals.
    • Mammals vary in social behaviour some live in groups, and others are solitary except when mating or raising offspring.

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