Clues from the scat of predators could be used to help shape future moose management in the Chilcotin region of B.C.
This is the second year of the scat collection program by the Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG) that launched mid-May.
Using off-road vehicles, scat will be collected by a two-person crew until the end of August in four different areas in the South and North Chilcotin west of Williams Lake.
Once collected it is stored in a freezer before being sent to Kamloops to be further analyzed by students at Thompson Rivers University.
TNG biologist Mitchell Warne said there are three main reasons for the study.
He said the first is to determine which predators are consuming moose calves, when predators are consuming moose calves and what percentage of their diet is adult moose or calf.
Hundreds of wolf and bear scat samples were collected last year.
Warne said due to COVID-19 precautions shuttering the TRU campus not all of the results are in from the scat samples collected last year.
Although it is too early to draw any conclusions there have been some interesting finds, he added. Scat droppings noticeably decreased in July, and mule deer was discovered in the scat more so than Warne was anticipating.
It is hoped once the scat collection program concludes a number of important questions about the moose populations as well the relationship between them and predators will be better understood.
“If certain predators are only consuming calves during a certain time frame, then we’d look at ways we can improve the moose cow chances during that time or maybe a predator that is blamed a lot isn’t actually responsible for this,” Warne said. “Those are the questions we’re looking to answer so we can then bring forward a management plan, ideas, and talk about that and get feedback.”
The scat collection program is funded by a moose co-management agreement which was signed by the Tsilhqot’in Nation and B.C. Government in September 2018 as a means of working together to ensure a sustainable moose population and harvest in the area.
“Next year we’re hoping to expand it to include other species,” Warne said. “If we get funding we would expand it to beyond just what we currently have but this project is focused on the moose calf.”