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                                                                                                                 Summer 1999

      ISSUE               P E A C E / W I L L I S T O N F I S H & W I L D L I F E C O M P E N S AT I O N P R O G R A M
      NO. 10

                          Biologists survey frogs, toads and
                          salamanders in Williston watershed

                              n the spring of 1998, the Peace/Williston Fish and   between dusk and midnight when amphibians are
                              Wildlife Compensation Program (PWFWCP)               most vocal.”
                              launched a reconnaissance-level survey of
                                                                                   Visual searches were undertaken in the afternoons
                          amphibians (frogs, toads, and salamanders) in the
                                                                                   during the warmest part of the day when both
                          Williston Reservoir watershed. Amphibians in BC
                                                                                   adult amphibians and their egg masses can be
                          are wetland-dependent species, requiring an aquatic
                                                                                   observed. These searches are necessary to detect
                          environment in which to breed and lay their eggs.
                                                                                   non-vocal amphibians such as female frogs and
                          Interest in the plight of amphibians has been rising     toads, and long-toed salamanders.
                          since the late 1980s when scientists worldwide
                                                                                   Surveys confirmed the presence of all four
                          began to note increased and widespread amphibian
                                                                                   suspected amphibian species in the Parsnip River
                          population declines, extinctions and deformities.
                                                                                   drainage: long-toed salamander, western toad,

Inside...                 “Most amphibians have never been properly
                          surveyed in the northern and mountainous regions
                          in northern regions of the province are poorly
                          known,” said Mari Wood, senior wildlife biologist
                                                                                   wood frog and Columbia spotted frog. The latter
                                                                                   three species were also confirmed in the Peace
                                                                                   River drainage while the long-toed salamander and
                                                                                   striped chorus frog remained undetected.

1   Biologists survey
    frogs, toads and
                          with the program.

                          The primary objectives of last spring’s surveys were
                                                                                   Areas surveyed in the Parsnip drainage include
                                                                                   Sabai Lake, Blackwater Creek, Curve Lake,
                          to record the occurrence of amphibian species in         Germansen Landing, Mugaha Marsh, and Mugaha
                          different biogeoclimatic zones in the southern and       Creek. In the Peace drainage, surveys were

2   An update of our
    wildlife activities
                          eastern parts of the Williston Reservoir watershed,
                          to document the timing of breeding activity, to test
                                                                                   conducted in the Dunlevy Creek, Gaylard Creek,
                                                                                   and Johnson Forest Service Road areas.
                          survey methods, and to assess the need for more
                                                                                   After the reconnaissance surveys were completed, a

4   Students raise
                          comprehensive surveys.

                          “We conducted surveys over a two-week period last
                                                                                   status report on the survey findings was prepared
                                                                                   by the programs’ wildlife technician Pamela
                          May, the time when amphibians congregate at              Hengeveld. Further monitoring activities are

5   Chetwynd groups
    work for healthy
                          wetlands for breeding,” said Wood. “Since the frog
                          and toad species in our region each have distinctive
                          calls, we conducted evening ‘calling surveys’ to
                                                                                   scheduled for 1999.

                          determine the presence and relative abundance of
                          each species at a site. These surveys took place

                                      BC Environment and Lands
overview       atureline is published to
               inform community
               leaders, interest groups,
      and the public about current
      projects and environmental
      initiatives being undertaken by
      the Peace/Williston Fish &
      Wildlife Compensation Program.

      The program is a joint
      BC Hydro and BC Environment
                                                An update of our activities 1998/99

      initiative designed to enhance                                                 only be identified during extended
                                           Wildlife surveys
      and conserve fish and wildlife in                                              periods of very cold temperatures.
                                           A February 1999 inventory of
      the watersheds of the Williston
                                           woodland caribou wintering on             Health Evaluation of
      and Dinosaur reservoirs in north-
                                           alpine slopes of the Wolverine,           Stone’s Sheep
      central British Columbia.            Germansen, Plughat, and Gillis
                                           Mountain ranges revealed only 91          A health evaluation of Stone’s sheep
      In 1988, a $10 million fund was                                                residing on Rainbow Rocks along the
                                           caribou. The presence of most radio-
      established to support research      collared caribou in the Wolverine         Williston Reservoir was also initiated
      and enhancement projects for         Caribou Herd in low elevation pine        this winter with the capture and
                                           forests, explained the unusually low      examination of six sheep. Three ewes
      fish and wildlife in the Williston
                                           numbers of caribou sighted on high        were radio-collared and released for
      Reservoir watershed.                                                           subsequent monitoring of move-
                                           elevation alpine slopes. Moose surveys
                                           were also conducted in February 1999      ments and habitat use. Additional
      A further $1 million was added
                                           in the Omineca, Nation, and Ospika        sheep from Rainbow Rocks, and
      to fund fisheries projects in the
                                           river valley bottoms, with the primary    sheep wintering on higher elevation
      Dinosaur Reservoir watershed                                                   alpine terrain, will be captured and
                                           objective of determining age/sex
      between the W.A.C. Bennett           composition. The broad floodplain         examined again next winter.
      and the Peace Canyon dams.           of the Omineca River revealed the
                                           highest densities, with 500 moose         Wetlands
      The annual interest from this
                                           observed. Far fewer moose were            Enhancement
      fund is managed to maintain the                                                Monitoring
                                           observed in the Nation and Ospika
      program in perpetuity.
                                           River valleys (65 and 15 respectively).   Twenty wetland
      This issue of Natureline deals                                                 sites in the Parsnip
                                           Some wildlife surveys were deferred
                                                                                     and Peace
      with some of the projects            due to winter weather conditions and
                                                                                     drainages were
      currently being undertaken and       subsequent animal distributions.
                                                                                     enhanced for
      some volunteer activities. We        Woodland caribou wintering in the
                                                                                     wildlife through
                                           Akie River exhibited behaviour similar
      invite you to forward any                                                      the establishment
                                           to those in the Wolverine Caribou
                                                                                     of 49 nest boxes
      questions and comments on the        Herd, choosing to remain in low
                                                                                     and 15 floating
      Peace/ Williston Fish and Wildlife   elevation forests rather than ascending
                                                                                     islands. Monitoring
      Compensation Program to Brian        to windswept alpine slopes where
                                                                                     of the use of the
                                           they are most easily enumerated. A
      Blackman, senior fisheries                                                     nest boxes and
                                           survey to identify critical open water
      biologist or Mari Wood, senior                                                 floating islands was
                                           areas for overwintering waterfowl
                                                                                     conducted in the
      wildlife biologist at::              was cancelled due to warmer than
                                                                                     summer of 1998; a
                                           usual weather conditions which
                                                                                     report on the results is being prepared.
      Peace/Williston                      resulted in an over-abundance of
      Fish and Wildlife                    open water areas. Critical areas can
      Compensation Program
      1011 4th Avenue
      Prince George, B.C.
      V2L 3H9
                                                                 goats. Other ungulates using high
                   Fisher Habitat Use                            elevation habitats in the survey area
                                                                 were also counted and classified. All
                   In 98/99, contract biologists continued
                                                                 alpine terrain between Bernard and
                   the third year radio-telemetry
                                                                 Schooler Creeks, and from the Williston
                   monitoring of collared fishers, medium-
                                                                 Reservoir north to the Emerslund
                   sized forest carnivores. Monitoring has
                                                                 Lakes, was surveyed.
                   provided information about maternal
                   den and resting site characteristics,         Most ungulate inventories are conducted in winter when
                   seasonal habitat use and movements,           animals seek areas of low snow depths such as valley
                   and juvenile dispersal. Six new fishers       bottoms or windswept alpine slopes. However, white
                   were captured and collared this year; 20      mountain goats are most easily located in mid-summer
                   fishers have been collared during the         when they frequent high elevation open alpine and cliff
                   project to date.                              terrain, and are more visible against the darker background
                                                                 of vegetation and rock. Distinguishing between sexes
                   Forage Enhancement                            (both males and females have horns) is also simpler at
                   Monitoring                                    this time of year. Females (called “nannies”) with young
 Forage enhancement activities (manual slashing and              kids, retain their long winter coats into August resulting
 girdling) were previously conducted between 1992 and            in a rather shaggy appearance, while males (called “billies”)
 1994 along the Omineca River and just north of                  shed their winter coats in early summer and appear short-
 Mackenzie. To determine if these treatments benefitted          haired and smooth.
 ungulates, the response of vegetation to the treatments
                                                                 We located 62 mountain goats during the surveys - 50 on
 and the amount of browsing by ungulates at the treated
                                                                 Mt. Brewster and 12 further to the northwest. Goats were
 sites were assessed.
                                                                 always sighted on or close to steep alpine rock or cliff
                                                                 terrain which provides security from predators. Other
 Nabesche Mountain Goats                                         ungulates observed on the inventory included 46 Stone’s
 Surveyed                                                        sheep, five woodland caribou, and four moose. In contrast
 In July 1998, we conducted an aerial inventory of moun-         to the goats that prefer steeper terrain, all Stone’s sheep
 tain goats residing in the Nabesche River drainage on the       were sighted on moderately sloping alpine grassland, rock
 north side of the Peace Arm. The primary objectives of the      talus, or scree slopes in the northern and eastern portions
 survey were to (1) determine the population size, age and       of the survey area. No goats or sheep were observed on
 sex ratios, and distribution of mountain goats in the area,     Mt. Burden or Mt. Greene in the western portion of the
 (2) record the locations of potential mineral licks, and (3)    Nabesche drainage.
 evaluate the capability of the habitat in the area to support
Students Raise                             Since November, the students have           The Department of Fisheries and
Kokanee                                    been monitoring the egg-hatching            Oceans donated materials and
Thanks to a big effort from the            process using carefully controlled          technical support, and the Ministry of
community, about 150 students in           aquarium conditions. Next June,             Environment, Lands and Parks
Mackenzie and Hudson’s Hope are            students will release the fry into creeks   provided the 250 kokanee eggs. The
gaining hands-on experience raising        flowing into Williston reservoir.           purchase of aquariums and related
kokanee from eggs to minnow-                                                           equipment was made possible by
                                           During this project, the students will
sized fry.                                                                             Finlay Forest Industries, Fletcher
                                           gain an understanding of the fish life
                                                                                       Challenge Canada, the Mackenzie Fish
Arne Langston, a BC Hydro fisheries        cycle, the dangers fish are exposed to,
                                                                                       and Game Association, Canfor Ltd.
biologist with the Peace/Williston         and the role fish play in the ecology of
                                                                                       (Chetwynd), the BC Hydro office at the
Fish and Wildlife Compensation             the reservoir.
                                                                                       W.A.C. Bennett Dam, the Lions Club of
Program, is coordinating the project.      “By raising the fish, the students will     Hudson’s Hope, and the Hudson’s Hope
                                           develop a sense of ownership for the        Rod and Gun Club.
“The intent is not to promote hatchery
production,” said Langston, “but to        health of the streams and reservoir, and
                                                                                       Participating schools are: Morfee
provide students with an educational,      an overall appreciation for fish and
                                                                                       Elementary (Ken Bohn’s class);
hands-on fisheries project opportunity.”   wildlife resources,” Langston said.
                                                                                       Mountain View Elementary (John
                                           Several organizations worked on the         Nolan’s and Ruth Flynn’s classes);
The fish eggs were distributed in
                                           project with the Peace/Williston Fish       Mackenzie Elementary (Marion
November to students in four
                                           and Wildlife Compensation Program, a        Talbot’s class); and Hudson’s Hope
schools: three in Mackenzie and one in
                                           joint effort by BC Hydro and the            School (Janet Hohner’s class). s
Hudson’s Hope. They were
collected from Kootenay Lake kokanee       Ministry of Environment, Lands and
which were returning to spawn at the       Parks to enhance and protect fish and
Meadow Creek spawning channel              wildlife within the Williston reservoir
                                           and Peace Canyon watersheds in              Drawing by Bianca Sinclair, a student at
north of Nelson.                                                                       Mackenzie Elementary School. Bianca’s
                                           north-central B.C.
                                                                                       drawing of kokanee, which the class
                                                                                       raised from eggs to small fingerling size
                                                                                       fry, was one of about 80 submitted in an
                                                                                       art contest organized by Arne Langston,
                                                                                       biologist with the PWFWCP.
 Chetwynd groups work to keep
 hunting and fishing paradise

            any Chetwynd outdoors-
            men and their families
            have been active in the
                                           the end of the road to Simpson Lake.
                                           They then deposited the fish at various
                                           points around the lake using Derby’s
                                                                                       The Chetwynd chapter of the
                                                                                       Wilderness Watch program - The
                                                                                       Foothills Recreation and Outdoors
 Peace/Williston Fish and Wildlife         inflatable boat.                            Association - has also played a role in
 Compensation Program, which aims                                                      the Peace Williston Fish and Wildlife
                                           “We learned a lot from this project,”
 to enhance fish and wildlife in the                                                   Compensation Program. Wilderness
                                           said Derby. “Stocking a barren lake
 watersheds of the Williston and                                                       Watch is a joint initiative of the B.C.
                                           isn’t as simple as it appears, but if we
 Dinosaur reservoirs.                                                                  Wildlife Federation and the Ministry
                                           can establish a trout population there,
                                                                                       of Environment, Land and Parks to
 Chetwynd residents claim the area         the rewards will be well worth it.”
                                                                                       assist conservation officers.
 around their community is a hunting
                                           The 85-member Chetwynd
 a fishing paradise and they want to                                                   Activities of the group include
                                           Environmental Society also
 keep it that way.                                                                     providing needy families with meat
                                           contributed ideas to the
                                                                                       from road kills, picking up orphaned
 Eight members of the Chetwynd Rod         Peace/Williston Fish and Wildlife
                                                                                       and injured animals for rehabilitation,
 and Gun Club and their families have      Compensation Program when the
                                                                                       putting up signs for fishing restrictions,
 worked over the past three years to       program began in the late eighties.
                                                                                       providing hunters with regulations
 stock Simpson Lake with rainbow
                                           Society president Stu Garland               and sending samples of teeth from
 trout taken from the Williston
                                           explained that the aim of the society       dead animals to the ministry for
                                           is to preserve wilderness areas and         analysis.
 “We’re more than willing to help,”        habitat for fish and wildlife, which fits
                                                                                       Last summer three members of the
 said George Mallia, vice president of     in well with the purpose of the com-
                                                                                       association helped compensation
 the Chetwynd Rod and Gun Club.            pensation program.
                                                                                       biologists transport trout to Simpson
 “Conservation is of prime importance
                                           The society has also participated in        Lake. “The people involved are very
 and I would like to see a lot more fish
                                           the area’s Land Resource Management         knowledgeable and I enjoyed working
 and wildlife enhancement.”
                                           Plans, community-developed plans            with them,” said Wayne Crossland
 Located about 40 kilometres west of       for provincial Crown land which             who heads the 10-member association.
 Chetwynd, Simpson Lake contained          attempt to balance various values
                                                                                       He added that if the compensation
 no fish until the stocking program        and interests in provincial resources.
                                                                                       program were better known, more
 began. “What we’re trying to do is
                                           Wayne Sawchuk, past president of            residents would contribute with
 establish a naturalized, self-perpetu-
                                           the society, was presented with the         information and ideas.
 ating population of rainbow trout,”
 said Arne Langston, a fish biologist      Minister’s Environmental Award for
                                                                                       In 1996 Crossland, as an interested
 with the program. “This will take the     his efforts in establishing the
                                                                                       individual, helped senior wildlife
 pressure off the Pine River and other     Muskwa-Kechika special manage-
                                                                                       biologist Mari Wood capture 50
 nearby fishing areas and provide us       ment area, a vast wilderness in the
                                                                                       Rocky Mountain elk near Chetywnd
 with a genetic pool of wild rainbow       northern Rockies.
                                                                                       in preparation for transport to the
 trout.”                                   As part of the Dawson Creek LRMP,           Ingenika area at the north end of the
                                           the society has also been working           Williston Reservoir.
 Using a vehicle loaned by Jim Derby, a
 former member of the                      onwhat could become the Pine/
                                                                                       “I learned a lot,” he said. “It was an
 Peace/Williston Advisory Committee,       LeMoray protected area, a 33,000
                                                                                       exciting project, just the kind
 the volunteers transported fish in        hectare wilderness just southwest of
                                                                                       we need to keep the area rich in
 coolers almost two kilometres from        Chetwynd.
                                                                                       animal life.” s
     Fish expenditures
     for 1998/99

                                                                                Wildlife expenditures
                                                                                for 1998/99

Interested in knowing more about fish and wildlife research and enhancement
activities in the Williston Reservoir watershed?

Try our web site at

To be placed on the mailing list for the free newsletter Natureline, contact:
Tony MacGregor
Peace/Williston Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program
Mailing address: Box 6500, Prince George, B.C., V2N 2K4
Tel (250) 561-4892.
Fax: (250)561-4979.

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