A new study authored by biologist Wayne McCrory highlights the fact that the Sunshine Coast Forest District has failed to implement a 2003 provincial government order to map, identify and set aside forest habitat that meets the criteria for winter sheltering habitat for Roosevelt elk.
These types of forests are also referred to as ungulate winter range (UWR). They provide conditions for elk to ‘shelter’ from winter conditions such as deep snow, cold winds and heavy rains to ensure optimal thermal conditions for these large mammals to survive. If elk do not have the shelter of mature or older forests, a herd can experience die-off in severe conditions.
“The report points out that the Sunshine Coast Forest District, and forest licensees (Sunshine Coast Community Forest and BCTS) have not proposed any elk UWRs in the region even though a 14-year-old government order instructed them to do so,” said Ross Muirhead, of Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF). “Our hope is that the report will lead to UWRs being established to ensure that a viable elk population is sustained. Vancouver Island and Kootenay Forest Districts have done the work of setting aside several UWRs for elk and black-tailed deer – we request the same for our region.”
“Unfortunately, some of the main forests that McCrory identifies as having medium to high elk winter habitat potential, are planned cutblocks, including the Chanterelle Forest and Clack Creek,” said Hans Penner also of ELF. “This report is further scientific evidence and justification for no additional cutblocks of natural forest in the already devastated Wilson Creek Watershed, and the proposed Mount Elphinstone Park expansion area.”