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Fisher habitat impacted by logging

VICTORIA – An investigation of a complaint by a trapper has found that habitat for the fisher – a fur-bearing mammal that is a species at risk in B.C. – is at risk of decline near Bobtail Mountain Park southwest of Prince George.

The trapper complained to the board that three cutblocks proposed by Canfor were the last remaining fisher habitat in his trapline, and he wanted them retained.

“Our investigation found that government has relied on voluntary efforts by forestry licensees to conserve fisher habitat,” said Kevin Kriese, chair, Forest Practices Board. “While Canfor did make efforts to protect habitat when designing the individual cutblocks in question, these efforts will not conserve adequate habitat for this species.”

The investigation found that government has not carried out landscape scale planning for fisher habitat in the district and has not used the tools available in the Forest and Range Practices Act to direct licensees. Instead, government has approached fisher habitat management by investing in non-legal guidance and planning tools for forest professionals and licensees to consider. Government has admitted the uptake of this approach by licensees is not sufficient.

“It is time for government to strengthen its approach to fisher habitat management,” Kriese said. “Immediate action is needed to clarify how habitat will be managed to ensure populations survive in this area.”

The board recommends that government clarify its expectations for licensees and use the tools available in legislation to identify and conserve fisher habitat. It is also recommending Canfor amend its forest stewardship plan to address the new expectations.

Fisher habitat consists of older forest stands with large trees, snags and coarse woody debris. Fishers prefer landscapes with large areas of connected forest and avoid non-forested openings.

The area of the complaint is within the traditional territories of the Nazko, Lheidlli T’enneh and Saik’uz First Nations. The Forest Practices Board recognizes the importance of their historical relationship with the land that continues to this day.

Victoria has not responded to the report yet.

The Forest Practices Board is B.C.’s independent watchdog for sound forest and range practices, reporting its findings and recommendations directly to the public and government. The board investigates public complaints about forest and range practices on public lands and appropriateness of government enforcement. It can also make recommendations for improvement to practices and legislation.


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