Help Stop Whirling Disease from Entering BC

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Last August, Canada's first case of whirling disease was confirmed at Johnson Lake within Banff National Park. Alberta's Bow River, Red Deer and Oldman River watersheds have now been declared infected with whirling disease by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and the rest of the province declared a buffer zone (see map ). The disease devastated wild trout populations in the Western United States in the 90s, but its effects on fish populations can vary. In a recent interview with the Calgary Herald , Aquatic Invasive Specialist Kate Wilson said scientists are unsure how the disease will impact Alberta's wild fish. As there's no cure for whirling disease, Alberta is focused on monitoring, education and following protocols to stop its spread. Though BC has not (yet) had a confirmed case of whirling disease, HCTF is helping to fund a coordinator to lead a whirling disease monitoring and education program in BC. Here's a quick primer on whirling disease, and what you can do to help stop it from spreading.  What causes whirling disease? Whirling disease is caused by a microscopic parasite (Myxobolus cerebralis) that infects both fish and freshwater worms during different phases of its lifecycle.                     What are the symptoms? In fish, the parasite affects the cartilage near the spine, leading...
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The Secret Life of Wolverines

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When you read the word “wolverine”, what comes to mind? A snarling, snapping North-American version of the Tasmanian devil? A fearsome furball taking down prey ten times its size?  Hugh Jackman? For a creature whose reputation has reached mythical proportions, it might surprise you to learn that there’s still a lot we don’t know about wolverines. Naturally rare, wolverines are found in remote wilderness areas, making them challenging study subjects. But with increasing pressure on the landscapes that wolverines and other wildlife call home, it’s more important than ever for land managers to have accurate information on wolverine populations in BC. Advances in research techniques and technology are not only providing the data necessary to protect wolverines, they’re actually changing the way we view this elusive species. Cliff Nietvelt is a BC government wildlife biologist who has been studying wolverines since 2009.  It was that year, working on a collaring project in the North Cascades, that he had his first up-close encounter with a wolverine. “We had set up a box trap and caught other carnivores but had no luck getting any wolverines,” recalls Cliff.  “I’d actually gone out to close the trap for a few days when I noticed...
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Restoration Work Begins on the Englishman River Estuary

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If you are walking the trails and beaches at the Englishman River estuary this summer, you may notice some new activity and heavy equipment working. It’s all part of a five-year plan to improve the habitat for fish and wildlife.   The Englishman River estuary and adjacent habitats support over 250 bird species, 23 mammals, plus several amphibians, reptiles, all species of Pacific salmon, and forage fish such as herring and Pacific sand lance. For over 25 years, The Nature Trust of British Columbia and partners have worked to secure land along the Englishman River. Today, over 100 hectares (247 acres) of the Englishman estuary and adjacent forest are protected and form part of the Parksville-Qualicum Beach Wildlife Management Area.    Since the 1930s, the Englishman estuary has been impacted by dikes, roads, residential development, industrial uses, and ditching. Today portions of the estuary are almost completely cut off from natural tidal and river processes. Consequently, the estuary has become less accessible for fish and wildlife that would normally use these habitats for shelter, feeding, and rearing.   “The Nature Trust of BC has been working with partners for decades to acquire and manage ecologically important lands along the Englishman River....
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BC Fisher Habitat Website

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The BC Fisher Habitat Working Group has just launched a new website to assist BC forest licensees and their contractors to identify and retain important fisher habitat.  The site allows forest practitioners to download information and tools specific to their location and operational focus. The site includes: - spatial data that lets planning foresters identify habitats and retention targets for harvested areas - pictorial guides to help on-the-ground field crews identify trees and other habitats important to fishers, and - field guides to help operational staff retain fisher habitat in their day-to-day activities. The web site is also designed for use by trappers, First Nations, and other people who are interested in learning more about fisher conservation. Visit the BC Fisher Habitat Website The Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation is proud to be a major funder of this extension project.   
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Bull River Bighorn Herd Helped by Land Purchase

Bull River Bighorn Herd Helped by Land Purchase
The Nature Trust of BC has just announced the successful acquisition of the Bull River Grassland Corridor property in the East Kootenays. Nature Trust CEO Jasper Lament said the 67 hectare property is an exciting addition to existing conservation lands in the lower Bull River: “Bighorn sheep use this property as part of their traditional winter range,” said Lament. “Because it is bounded on three sides by other conservation lands, it is a very strategically important acquisition.”‖ The securement of this property removes threats of disease transmission from domestic livestock to the Bull River bighorn sheep herd. It also protects winter range for elk and deer, and protects habitat for the provincially Redlisted American Badger. This project was completed with incredible support from the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, BC Conservation Foundation, Fish & Wildlife Compensation Program, and Environment and Climate Change Canada through the Natural Areas Conservation Program facilitated by the Nature Conservancy of Canada. The Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation provided over $350,000 to the purchase of this property, and is also funding a project studying the health and movements of the Bull River bighorn herd. “The Bull River herd has partially recovered from a die-off in the 1980s, and...
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