Wildlife of British Columbia

Andrew JohnsonNatural Resources, Online Courses Comments

Wildlife of British Columbia - Elk walking on the road in BC

The Call of the (British Columbian) Wild

Did you know that British Columbia has the largest number of mammals per province?! B.C. also has the highest degree of bio-diversity in all of Canada. There are more than 500 different wildlife species in B.C!

Large mammals receive the majority of protection and mitigation on projects because they act as umbrella species. Umbrella species are species selected for making management decisions on a project. This is typically due to the fact that by protecting certain species, other species that make up the ecological community of a habitat are indirectly protected as well. This means that when a large mammal is being well-protected, that smaller species are also being well-managed.

Indicator species are species that represent the overall health of an ecosystem. Keystone stone species are species that if removed from an ecosystem, would result in a major collapse of that food web or ecosystem. Therefore, both indicator and keystone species are also very important in managerial decisions on a project.

Umbrella, indicator and keystone species are used to create management decisions for wildlife and identified wildlife habitats. Identified wildlife habitats are categorized by a QEP and are registered by the Province of British Columbia. Identified habitat requirements include food – habitat used for seeking and consuming food, thermal – habitat used for protection from heat, cold, precipitation, and wind, and shelter – habitat used for protection or hiding from predators.  Additional specific requirements also include access to migration routes or hibernation. Each identified habitat is given a rating; high, moderate, low or nil. The rating is relative to the provincial benchmark of the best habitat in British Columbia. Rankings are created for each season and maps are produced to help make accurate land-use management decisions.

Population ecology requirements are also essential in habitat requirements. Population ecology describes the dynamics of an entire population. This includes rates measuring the births, deaths, predation and genetic patterns.

In wildlife management it is very important to allow for genetic re-population. Inbred individuals have a higher percentage of mutated genes, which makes them less likely to survive. Populations slowly dwindle if the re-introduction of new genes does not occur.

Want to learn more about B.C.’s wildlife? Then check out the Wildlife, Bird and Amphibian Mitigation Measures course in the UNBC Continuing Studies’ Environmental Monitoring Certificate.