Local biologist

Local biologist

Grouse the topic for Scout Island fundraiser

Local biologist, researcher and wildlife photographer Ken MacKenzie will be the speaker at the annual Scout Island fundraising banquet.

Local biologist, researcher and wildlife photographer Ken MacKenzie will be the guest speaker at the annual Scout Island Nature Centre fundraising banquet coming up next week in Williams Lake.

MacKenzie says he will share some of the research he has been engaged in to try and discover why populations of Dusky Grouse are in decline.  He will also discuss some of the difficulties associated with researching grouse populations.

There are 19 species of grouse in the world, 12 in North America and eight in B.C. numbers.  All but one of these species are on the decline.  He will discuss some of the possible reasons for the declines and what could be done to reverse the trend.

Weighing up to about two-and-a-half kilograms, he said the Blue Grouse is a popular game bird.

“The populations have been decreasing down for a very long time,” MacKenzie said.

The study involved researchers from the ministry of environment, a wildlife biologist from Kamloops with professors from the University of Alberta and the University of British Columbia as advisors.

As part of the research, he said genetic samples were collected from interior and coastal blue grouse.

The genetic samples were tested as part of a larger study by researchers at the Smithsonian Institute which helped determine that blue grouse were actually two distinct species — the coastal birds now called Sooty Grouse and the interior grouse, called Dusky Grouse.

In some cases the populations overlap. For instance of the Blue Grouse studied at the Junction Sheep Range, three were determined to be coastal Sooty Grouse and seven were determined to be Dusky Grouse.

MacKenzie came to the Cariboo for the first time in 1989 from the University of Victoria to work for eight months to do field work on forest pests throughout the Cariboo Region.

He returned in 1994 to work with the forest services research section and has stayed on in the Cariboo studying a wide range of species including caribou, mule deer, birds, and small mammals. He now works as an independent research biologist and consultant for non-governmental organizations, forest companies, government ministries such as environment, forests and lands, and parks.

The Scout Island Nature Centre banquet and silent auction takes place Friday, April 21 at St. Andrew’s United Church hall.

Doors open at 6 p.m. and the dinner starts at 6:45 p.m.

Tickets are $40 for adults and $15 for students 16 and younger.

Tickets are available at The Open Book, at the Scout Island Nature Centre and from Williams Lake Field Naturalists.