Biologist helps create habitat for endangered fisherman – 100 Mile House Free Press

Red-listed anglers have found help from a biologist at 108 Mile Ranch.

Larry Davis of Davis Environmental Ltd. designed a fisherman’s den, an insulated wooden box that can be hung from trees to provide habitat for endangered mammals. The box aims to provide habitat for women fishers, especially in areas affected by deforestation.

Anglers are considered endangered in the central interior and of special concern in northeastern British Columbia.

“We started this study in 2013 to try to get more breeding habitat due to the loss of large trees,” Davis told the Free press during an open house at the BC Trappers Convention recently.

The insulated boxes are placed about eight feet up in a tree, providing refuge for females who need a place to give birth in April. Around 50 boxes were placed in the central interior, resulting in 12 females, carrying one to three kits, coming back repeatedly at the end of the study in 2019.

He noted that fishermen are red-listed in this area, for various reasons. Genetic evidence shows that fishermen on this side of the Rockies are different from those on the other side of the Rockies, possibly due to glaciation. Those in British Columbia have lower birth rates, irregular litters and fewer kits, Davis said. Only about 60% survive.

Helping them is important, he said, because they are medium-sized carnivores that help control all sorts of small mammals such as mice, voles and snowshoe hares.

“We would like the logging industry to leave more habitat for them and actually benefit them by keeping prey levels at levels that don’t damage the forest, Davis said. “We’ve done research that shows that in 10% of young clearcuts, fishermen disappear.”

Fishermen can get away with a mix of forests “wherever you have spruce forests, you’ll have fishermen as long as there isn’t too much clearcutting.” They need a large forested area – 30 km2 – to survive, compared to martens, which only need about a km2 if it is good habitat.

Biologists have also been testing angler exclusion boxes for years – an elongated marten cube fitted with a faceplate sized to keep anglers out.

“We encourage trappers to use angler exclusion boxes and find other ways to avoid catching anglers as bycatch.”

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