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HCTF Visits the Cariboo

HCTF Visits the Cariboo
As part of our evaluation program to ensure HCTF funds are benefiting fish and wildlife conservation, HCTF staff regularly visit project leaders to get an in-depth look at their projects – both on paper (financials) and on the ground. In late September HCTF staff biologist Kathryn Martell and financial officer Katelynn Sander travelled to Williams Lake to conduct evaluations on two projects. The first was the Fisher Artificial Reproductive Den Box Study  led by Larry Davis of Davis Environmental Ltd. Fishers are a threatened species in British Columbia and are also the largest obligate tree-cavity user in North America. They typically use cavities in large diameter trees both for resting in winter, and as reproductive dens. Suitable den trees are rare in the landscape and impacts in many areas of the province have further reduced the availability of this habitat feature. Larry’s project seeks to determine if fishers will use artificial (man-made) den boxes for reproductive dens, as a way to augment denning habitat in areas where natural den trees have been reduced. This year of the study continued the monitoring efforts on the 56 den boxes installed during this project. Larry has been successful in attracting fishers to 50%...
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Quesnel Lake Tagging Program Receives Top Honours

Quesnel Lake Tagging Program Receives Top Honours
HCTF Silver Award winner Lee Wiliston's project was recently featured in the  2016 Cariboo-Chilcotin Fishing Guide . Angie Mindus, editor of the Williams Lake Tribune , wrote the following article about the Quesnel Lake tagging program, and has kindly agreed to let us republish the story here.   High-Tech Tagging Program Unravels Mysteries of Quesnel Lake   A five-year study examining the effects of angling pressures on resident rainbow, bull and lake trout in Quesnel Lake has netted a prestigious provincial award, accolades from professionals in the field and critical information to ensure the long-term survival of the species. The Quesnel Lake fish tagging program, which was launched in 2013 in response to public reports of improved fish numbers in the lake and requests to review the restricted fishing regulations, is entering its fourth year and relies on a winning combination of a high tech fish-tracking system and good oldfashioned reporting from anglers. Lee Williston, study leader and senior fisheries biologist with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, said he couldn't be happier with the results. "The knowledge we have gained over the last three years has really exceeded all our expectations:' Williston said. "The number one...
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Meet the 2015 Fisher Den Box Kits

Meet the 2015 Fisher Den Box Kits
We received the following video update on the Fisher Artificial Den Box Study from biologist Larry Davis. Davis and his team are trying to determine if female fishers will use human-constructed den boxes to raise their young, as there are very few of the fisher's natural denning sites left in some areas of their range. "Fisher require large diameter trees with heart-rot cavities for reproduction," says Davis. "These trees are rare in managed landscapes."   2015 was the third year of this HCTF-funded project, and Larry and his team continued monitoring the 56 installed den boxes to see if they were being used by fishers. “We have been successful in attracting fishers to 50% of the den boxes, with many of the structures used for resting during winter," reveals Davis. "We identified 45 fisher samples using hair snaggers located at the entrance to the den boxes. Of these, 14 were identified as being unique females, with 8 of them using the structures more than once, and 4 of them detected at 2 different den boxes.” During the 2015 reproductive season, two fisher females used artificial den boxes to give birth to and raise their young. The video features footage of...
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New Nesting Platform Eagle-Approved

New Nesting Platform Eagle-Approved
Residents of Vancouver’s North Shore have some new feathery neighbours. A pair of bald eagles has moved into a nesting platform built last summer at MacKay Creek estuary, which was recently restored as part of HCTF’s Burrard Inlet Restoration Pilot Program . Eric Anderson of the BC Institute of Technology led the project to construct a platform at the head of the estuary, adjacent to the Spirit Trail. The host tree was selected by biologist David Hancock , whose extensive experience with eagle nest construction was critical to identifying a cottonwood of suitable size, shape, and location. To get the tree eagle-ready, arborists carefully pruned some of the non-dominant stems to improve accessibility. Next, a cedar frame was attached using special lines designed to allow the tree to move and grow unharmed.   Finally, the frame was lined with cedar boughs to make it a little more inviting for any prospective tenants.   It appears to have worked!       HCTF provided a grant both for the construction of the platform as well as complementary studies by four BCIT students​ of eagle ecology that will inform future nest construction projects. The grant was made possible through an endowment HCTF...
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The Secret Lives of Bluebirds

The Secret Lives of Bluebirds
Summer’s in full swing, and so is the field season for many of HCTF’s grant recipients. Among these is the Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team (GOERT) and their “Bring Back the Bluebirds” project. The project is an international partnership working within Vancouver Island communities to restore Western bluebirds to their native Garry oak ecosystems. By transporting pairs of bluebirds to the Cowichan Valley from a healthy population in southern Washington, the project hopes to ultimately re-establish a breeding population of the birds on southeastern Vancouver Island and the southern Gulf Islands, where they have been extirpated (locally extinct) since the mid-1990s. The primary cause of their extirpation is thought to be habitat loss: bluebirds are secondary cavity nesters, and historically have relied on the holes made by woodpeckers in dead trees for nest sites. As the number of potential nesting trees declined, so did the bluebirds, to the point where a local population could no longer be sustained. To mitigate this habitat loss, the GOERT project team has installed wooden nest boxes in suitable bluebird habitat as an alternative to traditional nesting cavities. Though it certainly hasn’t been smooth sailing for all of the translocated pairs, the project team has...
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