Kelowna, BC: The Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation (HCTF) has announced $9.2 million in funding for more than 180 individual wildlife, freshwater fish, and habitat conservation projects across British Columbia this year.
“This is no small feat,” said Dan Buffett, CEO of HCTF. “It reflects a diversity of funding from our core contributors [hunters, anglers, trappers and guides], court awards, provincial government contributions and endowments, and our partners such as the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC).”
Through cooperation with partners such as the FESBC, HCTF is able to support conservation projects like the Southern Interior Mule Deer Project in studying how mule deer population respond to wildlife and habitat change. Conducting research in the Boundary Region, West Okanagan, and Bonaparte Plateau the project hopes to reveal why mule deer populations are declining in BC’s southern interior and provide recommendation on how to restore their abundance in the area.
“What we have heard from Indigenous communities, ecologists, and resident hunters is that the decline of mule deer matters to them and the status quo is no longer sufficient. It is time we bring more science to bear on issues affecting wildlife in BC,” said Dr. Adam T. Ford, Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia.
A combination of GPS tracking collars, trail cameras and pregnancy checks on wild doe deer are being used by researchers to assess changes in deer populations at the study sites. These research activities are helping to reveal how wildlife along with fire suppression efforts, timber extractions, highways and urban development are changing the movement and size of deer populations in BC’s southern interior. Bringing together conservation organizations, government agencies, and universities in both Canada and the USA, this project combines cutting-edge research on deer ecology with on-the-ground partnerships with First Nations, industry experts and local communities to investigate and develop solutions for mule deer conservation.
Other funded projects taking place in the Okanagan Region include:
- $28,500 to support the South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program to protect fish and wildlife habitat. Co-funded with FESBC.
- $47,129 for assessing the bull trout population in the Upper Shuswap.
- $53,080 for habitat restoration of Black Cottonwood ecosystems in the Kettle River Watershed to help conserve species-at-risk such as the Lewis’s Woodpecker.
FESBC’s Executive Director Steve Kozuki is “thrilled to partner with the trusted and respected Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation to improve wildlife habitat. With their first-in-class management of funds and projects by talented and professional staff, we know that we are maximizing benefits for wildlife in British Columbia.”
Each project funded through HCTF is reviewed by a multi-level, objective technical review process prior to final Board review and decision. HCTF’s Board of Directors ensures that species important to BC anglers and hunters are supported but also place a great deal of importance on conserving whole ecosystems, species-at-risk and investing in environmental education across the province.