Pre-commercial thinning is a silviculture tool used in interior Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca) forests in the Central Interior of British Columbia. However, little is known about the short- and long-term effects on habitat use by wildlife in the winter when pre-commercial thinning is applied to a highly dense layer of tree regeneration. On a research trial near 100 Mile House, B.C., track densities of common wildlife species were compared among three treatments and two time periods: Pre-commercial thin (PCT), Pre-commercial thin with uncut strips (PCT-strip), and uncut Controls immediately after treatment (1987-1989) and 28-30 years later (2014-2017). Wildlife track density was used as an index of relative preference of the stand treatments. Pre-commercial thinning did not affect relative use by mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) immediately after thinning but appeared to be beneficial in the later period when mule deer use of the uncut Control blocks declined. The strong negative effect of PCT on relative use by snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus) endured for 30 years, but the PCT-strip treatment lessened the effect. Red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) used the treatments equally in both time periods. This study shows that PCT has lasting effects on stand structure, with consequences for wildlife.
Michaela J. Waterhouse, Russell Walton. 2021. Long-term Effects of Pre-commercial Thinning on Winter Wildlife in Interior Douglas-fir Forests in Central British Columbia. FLNRORD. Technical Report (FLNRORD). TR133
Keywords: pre-commercial thinning, interior Douglas-fir, winter habitat, mule deer, snowshoe hare, red squirrel, long-term study
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