The moose population in the headwaters of the North Thompson River has declined from about 400 in the year 2000 to less than 100 today.
Main reason for the decline is likely wolf predation plus the effect of a maturing forest decreasing the amount of browse available, according to Doug Lewis, resource practices specialist with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources.
Lewis made his remarks during a presentation on cumulative effects he gave in Clearwater during National Forest Week.
A wolf collared near the North Thompson headwaters showed up several months later near Williams Lake, Lewis said.
Another wolf that had been collared near Jasper turned up near the U.S. border.
“So they’re moving a lot more than we thought,” Lewis said.
The declining moose population in the headwaters area means that the wolves have been moving south, resulting in sightings near Vavenby and even Kamloops.
Fewer wolves might mean less predation on mountain caribou, but it is still too early to predict by how much.
The important point is that all those changes affect each other and are affected by other changes.
By studying cumulative effects, forest managers attempt to identify and then predict how different changes on the land will affect other values.
Logging, for example, can affect water rights, grazing, biodiversity, visual quality, First Nations’ interests, private landowners and other values.
Effects can accumulate to give unintended outcomes.
“We’re trying to get a little bit smarter and strategic,” Lewis said. “It’s not a science problem. It’s a policy problem – finding the right balance.”