Morgan Anderson from BC Ministry of Forests prepared this report on Northers BC’s Southernmost Stone’s Sheep.
Stone’s sheep are an iconic northern wildlife species with significant socioeconomic, cultural, and ecological value, but in parts of their range, critical knowledge gaps compromise effective conservation and management. Sheep range in British Columbia’s Region 7A Omineca is poorly known and constitutes the south-central portion of global Stone’s sheep range. This project aims to define herd boundaries and habitat selection in the Tatlatui, Swannel, and Russel ranges (Wildlife Management Units 7-38, 7-39, 7-40, 6-18) to better monitor and evaluate population trends, harvest pressure, and habitat enhancement options.
The project began in 2021/22 with collar purchase and planning, although discussions had been on-going since 2020 among government biologists, First Nations, stakeholders, and contractors. We deployed 13 satellite GPS collars on ewes in the study area in February 2022 and conducted a June lamb-at-heel survey. Lamb recruitment was 34 lambs per 100 ewe-like sheep based on all sheep observed, or 33 lambs per 100 ewes based on lamb-at-heel status of collared ewes.
Funding for the survey was provided to the Wild Sheep Society of BC (WSSBC) by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation and Wild Sheep Foundation Grants in Aid Program to support this work. BC Ministry of Forests Land-based Investment Strategy also provided funding, and collars were provided by WSSBC. Thanks to Tsay Keh Dene and Kwadacha Nations for their on-going assistance, input, and support on the project. Thanks to Eric Stier (Guardian Aerospace) for flying fixed-wing scouting flights, and Rob Altoft (Yellowhead Helicopters) for flying captures. Landon Birch (Wildlife Infometrics) has been integral to the design and implementation of the work and provided comments on this report.