Natureline 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 I 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 salamanders. 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 kokanee 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. environment determine the presence and relative abundance of each species at a site. These surveys took place BC Environment and Lands N 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 Naturel 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 line update 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. line Chetwynd groups work to keep hunting and fishing paradise M 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 Reservoir. 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 http://www.bchydro.bc.ca/environment/pwcp 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. E-Mail: Tony.MacGregor@bchydro.bc.ca.
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