In 2013, the B.C. government initiated a research project to determine the factors affecting Moose population change in central B.C. by evaluating a landscape change hypothesis proposed by Kuzyk and Heard (2014). This report provides preliminary results and interpretation of the data collected from February 2012 to May 2019. It is preceded by four annual reports: Kuzyk et al. (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018a) and follows the recently revised research design for this project (Kuzyk et al. 2019). This research was initiated because Moose abundance in some areas of central British Columbia (B.C.) had declined since the early 2000s, causing concern with First Nations and stakeholders. Much of the decline happened concurrently with a Mountain Pine Beetle (MPB) outbreak that killed a large proportion of mature pine trees and resulted in increased salvage logging and road building. In response to the Moose decline, a 5-year provincially-coordinated Moose research project was initiated by the B.C. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) [as of 2017, the Ministry name changed to Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD)]. In February 2012, a Moose study with similar objectives began on the Bonaparte Plateau and was integrated with this project. The primary research objective of this project is to evaluate a landscape change hypothesis, which states that Moose declines coincided with a Mountain Pine Beetle outbreak where habitat changes and increased salvage logging and road building resulted in greater vulnerability to Moose from hunters, predators, nutritional constraints, age/health and environmental conditions. It assumes Moose survival will increase when: a) forest cutblocks regenerate to the point where vegetation obstructs the view of predators and hunters; b) resource roads created for logging are rendered impassable; and c) Moose become more uniformly dispersed on the landscape. We evaluated that hypothesis by identifying causes and rates of cow Moose mortality and examining factors that contributed to their vulnerability. To assess the causes and rates of calf mortality, an important research gap previously identified at the outset of this project, Moose calves that were 8-months old were collared in Bonaparte and Prince George South in the winters of 2016/17, 2017/18, and 2018/19. This progress report provides data and a preliminary interpretation of the results from 28 February 2012 to May 2019 from five study areas in central B.C.: Bonaparte; Big Creek; Entiako; Prince George South; and the John Prince Research Forest.
G. Kuzyk,, C. Procter, S. Marshall, H. Schindler, H. Schwantje, M. Scheideman, D. Hodder. 2019. Factors Affecting Moose Population Declines in British Columbia: 2019 Progress Report: February 2012 May 2019. Province of B.C., Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. Wildlife Working Report. WR-127