British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Habitat use, seasonal movements, and population dynamics of bighorn sheep in the Elk Valley Poole, Kim G.; Teske, Irene; Podrasky, Kevin


The Elk Valley, in south-eastern BC, supports important industrial activities such as coal mining and timber harvesting, and supports a provincially significant population of approximately 600 Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis canadensis). The Ewin Ridge sheep range to the north of Line Ridge has been considered to be the most important bighorn sheep winter range in BC. In 1997 BC Environment staff, industrial resource users, residents, and other stakeholders organized the Elk Valley Bighorn Sheep Committee (EVBSC). The groups goals are: "To employ the principle of sustainable development with a sheep management strategy that maintains a determined sheep population in perpetuity, and allow for orderly development of resources that will benefit mankind". In 2007 the EVBSC approved a plan to evaluate sheep habitat use, quality and distribution within the east Elk Valley in light of the potential for future industrial development. The results of the study are expected to provide recommendations to sustainably manage bighorn sheep and their habitats. To date 39 sheep of both sexes have been fitted with global positioning system (GPS) collars, 62 vegetation enclosures have been placed across 8 winter range units and seasonal fecal pellet collections have occurred.

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