Local hunters concerned about loss of ungulate habitat from Site C

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Erica Fisher

Erica is a reporter for Moose FM and energeticcity.ca in Fort St. John, B.C. She grew up in Victoria, B.C. and received her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec.

According to his report, 75.3 per cent of high winter habitat capability for moose and 68.5 for mule deer in the Peace Region is located in the four Wildlife Management Units adjacent to the dam and reservoir. 

“This reiterates the importance of these areas not only currently, but into the future for these species,” Nagy says. “These four WMUs contribute significantly to the utilization of wildlife – these species – within the region.” 

Between 2002 and 2011, an average of 639 moose, 465 elk, and 702 mule deer were harvested each year by hunters from the area below and above the proposed dam site. When looking at just the three Wildlife Management Units above the dam, which Nagy says would be most affected by flooding, loss of slope habitat, and potential slumping, it represents 20 per cent of the annual regional moose harvest, 23 per cent for elk, and 56 per cent for mule deer. 

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“A significant thing to consider here is that, in the worst case, if there are severe impacts, significant impacts, of the proposed dam on ungulates within these areas, given the magnitude of this harvest, what is the probability of being able to redistribute that harvest into adjacent Wildlife Management Units and still maintain sustainable harvests within those areas.”

The numbers given are based on annual surveys done by hunters across the province, but do not include Aboriginal takes, which concerned Joint Review Panel Chair Harry Swain. 

Nagy also argues that the information B.C. Hydro has provided in its Environmental Impact Statement is insufficient, noting it didn’t compare habitat selection between seasons and a lack of baseline data for small mammals and grizzly bears. 

The public hearings on wildlife conclude this afternoon, followed by Aboriginal and Treaty rights Friday.

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