Badgers are carnivorous mammals that live in the grasslands and dry forests of the interior of British Columbia. Even though we live with badgers, not many people are fortunate enough to see one because badgers generally move around at night and are secretive by nature.
Badgers are endangered in British Columbia and it is believed that probably less than 350 badgers live here now. The grasslands and dry forests of the Thompson, Okanagan, Boundary, Nicola, Cariboo, and East Kootenay regions are home to most of the remaining badgers in BC.
Habitat loss, through housing developments and intensive agriculture, and deaths caused by road mortality, shooting, and poisoning are contributors to the decline of badger populations in BC.
Armed with garbage bags, shovels, gloves and a backhoe, volunteers last weekend removed everything from appliances and bedsprings to glass and tiles from a grassland near Grand Forks which was purchased earlier this year by the Southern Interior Land Trust (SILT).
The cleanup improves habitat for a herd of 200-300 California bighorn sheep, as well as spring and winter range for mule and white-tailed deer who rely on the open, rolling grassland dotted with aspen groves and black hawthorn. It is also habitat for several species-at-risk, including snakes, spadefoot toad, tiger salamander and badger.
The volunteers were members of the Mehmal and Brandow families, the Grand Forks Wildlife Association, the Wild Sheep Society of BC., SILT and other local residents.
Formerly part of the Mehmal Ranch at the end of Morrissey Creek Road, D.L. 492 is 109 hectares (270 acres) of excellent habitat for wildlife, notes Judie Steeves, president of SILT.
Information signs were also posted identifying it as private property now conserved for wildlife. The public is welcome to walk the property at their own risk, take photos and enjoy the natural beauty, but barriers and signs have been installed to inform people that motorized use is prohibited.
The property has a history of damage from abuse by riders trespassing on their ATVs and motorbikes and from illegal dumping, says Steeves. We ask the community to respect that this is actually privately-owned land purchased with donations from a variety of sources to conserve its natural features for wildlife.
SILT is a volunteer-run, not-for-profit charity that works to acquire gems and jewels of wildlife habitat that also act as “stepping-stones” for animal movement. The grasslands surrounding Grand Forks are ecologically significant and host nationally-important and highly-diverse wildlife species.
Acquiring D.L. 492 was made possible by the generosity of the family of the late Walter Mehmal; the B.C. Conservation Foundation; the Brandow family, the Wild Sheep Society of B.C. and its members; the Grand Forks Wildlife Association and other donors, said Steeves.
SILT is currently working to acquire Lot A, D.L. 493, 35-hectares (86 acres) of wildlife habitat that lies adjacent to D.L. 492.
You can help to purchase Lot A and learn more about SILT at: www.siltrust.ca. Tax receipts will be issued for donations of cash, land, and bequests
As one of the sponsors of the John B. Holdstock Scholarship, the Southern Interior Land Trust is pleased to announce that Katie Zinn is the 2020 recipient, chosen from a field of six this summer by a group of judges representing a variety of organizations.
Zinn is a fly fisher who has recently completed her thesis on the effects of reduced streamflow on hypoxia and habitat use of threatened Salish Sucker and juvenile Coho salmon.
She begins her PhD this fall at the University of B.C. in the department of zoology and is studying the effects of recreational catch and release on Chinook salmon.
She grew up spending summers on the Sunshine Coast exploring the intertidal zone and poking anemones and fishing off the dock.
Her undergrad degree is in Natural Resource Conservation with a specialty in Science and Management.
She has volunteered in the Pacific Salmon and Ecology and Conservation Laboratory, and she has also worked fighting wildfires out of Cranbrook.
It was an amazing experience to work in the East Kootenays, and it forced me to open my eyes to the freshwater world after growing up on the coast. Shortly after I got to Cranbrook, I was introduced to fly fishing. It’s easy to learn to fly fish when you are surrounded by world-class dry fly rivers. I fell in love with the sport and have been chasing fish with my fly rod ever since, she commented.
John Holdstock was a founding director of the Okanagan Region Wildlife Heritage Society in 1988 (now the SILT) until his sudden death in 2010. He was also a past-president of the B.C. Wildlife Federation and involved in a number of other outdoors organizations.
The signature on his e-mails was always:
The world is run by those who show up.
The annual scholarship is coordinated by the B.C. Conservation Foundation. Go to: bccf.com for more information.
The Southern Interior Land Trust is interested in welcoming new additions to its board of directors.
If you are passionate about conserving land for wildlife in the Southern Interior of B.C., consider sending some information about your interest and what you would bring to the board in an e-mail to secretary-treasurer Gord Wilson.
The board is especially interested in adding particular skill sets to the makeup of the team, so if you have a legal mind, skills in fund-raising, promotion, grant-writing, accounting, use of social media, land appraisal or real estate, ecology or biology, construction, selling or marketing or environmental restoration, SILT would like to hear from you.
You might find yourself exploring new properties to determine their importance for conservation; working on the ground on restoration projects; raising the profile of SILT, or funds to purchase properties with important natural features; or preparing grant applications to ensure another gem of wildlife habitat can be conserved in its natural state.
You’d be a volunteer, and it’s work, but it’s satisfying work.
To learn more about SILT, browse the website. If you have questions, send an e-mail to email@example.com