Industry helps BC designate new wildlife habitat areas
VICTORIA, BC-The British Columbia government, working with industry under the Forest and Range Practices Act, has created 130 new wildlife habitat areas (WHAs) to protect such species as the mountain caribou and marbled murrelet, and has established new areas to protect the winter ranges of several types of elk and deer (known as ungulate species). With these new additions, covering 605,300 hectares, BC now has 290 provincially-designated WHAs, comprising 654,037 hectares. Forty-one of the new wildlife habitat areas were initiated by industry. "Working in partnership with the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection, we were able to proactively develop operationally and biologically effective Wildlife Habitat Areas and Ungulate Winter Ranges for Canfor's coastal operations in an effective and timely manner," said John Deal, Canfor's wildlife and biodiversity manager. "One of the main benefits to Canfor from this partnership is providing certainty in our harvest planning." The province also recently designated over 1.3 million hectares of wilderness as ungulate winter ranges to protect valuable winter habitat for the Roosevelt elk, the mountain goat, the mule deer and the black-tailed deer. Ungulate winter ranges provide shelter from heavy winter snow and predators and accessibility to a year-round source of food. BC now has a total of 2,265,471 hectares established to protect ungulate winter ranges. WHAs are areas within which foresters and ranchers are required to use specific management practices to avoid harming wildlife and plant habitat.