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Response of woodland caribou to partial retention logging of winter ranges attacked by mountain pine beetle
Seip, Dale R.
The Kennedy Siding caribou herd contains about 150 caribou, and is one of the nationally Threatened caribou herds living in the Southern Mountains National Ecological Area. We have been studying the habitat selection of this herd for the past five years (Jones et al. 2004). These animals are the northern ecotype of woodland caribou that feed primarily on terrestrial lichens during the winter. The pine-lichen winter range of this herd is an approved 2894 hectare Ungulate Winter Range (UWR), and forest management practices are guided by the General Wildlife Measures outlined in the UWR document. Those measures require that at least half of the total UWR area is maintained in stands greater than 50 years of age. The pine-lichen winter range has recently been attacked by mountain pine beetle (MPB), and some salvage logging commenced in March 2005. The provincial MPB projection indicates that the pine forests surrounding Mackenzie, including the Kennedy siding UWR, will be completely attacked over the next few years Under the UWR measures, up to half will be salvage logged (about 1500 hectares), but the remaining 1500 hectares will be retained even if most or all of the trees are dead. The purpose of this project is to monitor the response of the caribou to MPB, and evaluate if the UWR management practices are effective in maintaining caribou use of the area. The results will be used to modify the UWR management practices if necessary. Any modifications would also apply to 136,672 hectares of caribou UWR in other parts of the Region that currently have similar management objectives in place. As MPB spreads into the Peace River District, those management practices will be applied to additional areas of caribou habitat. Because the Kennedy Siding UWR is very accessible, it is probably the most cost-effective and efficient location in all of B.C. to evaluate caribou use of MPB killed stands. Also, we have 5 years of pre-MPB caribou habitat use data for comparison. We will evaluate the response of the caribou and their habitat to MPB attack, and the UWR management practices, including: i) timing and duration of use of the winter range (compared to our pre-MPB data). ii) stand type selection within the UWR (salvaged vs. unsalvaged dead, vs. live stands). iii) feeding behaviour of caribou in different stand types. iv) snow depth and snow conditions in different stand types. v) terrestrial and arboreal lichen availability in different stand types. vi) terrestrial and arboreal lichen growth response in different stand types
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Executive Summary
Annual Report

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