Archive for September, 2020

Garbage in the Woods

Monday, September 28th, 2020

The Lake News, Lake Cowichan, B.C., Wednesday, April 18, 1990

We’re the top slobs

by Ted Burns

Lake Cowichan has one of the easiest waste disposal setups I’ve experienced. You put your garbage out once a week and its whisked away never to be seen again. If you have too much junk for curb side pick up, the incinerator is just a short hop away and it’s free.

Many would argue that it’s too easy and that there should be a recycling program. Indeed.

So why is there so much garbage in the bush?

Almost every old grade has mounds of household and yard junk scattered here and there. Old stoves and refrigerators, sofas and chairs, roofing materials, lumber and plywood, cans and bottles, magazines and newspapers, you name it. Then there are the highway ditches which collect litter at a depressing rate. I know of several area youths who have collected enough cans in a year to purchase expensive mountain bikes. There are many dollars worth of beer and pop cans in relatively small areas. Who among us is so rich that they can afford to toss money away?

I was raised in the Kootenays, the West Kootenay. Dumping garbage in the bush is unheard of there. It just doesn’t happen. Nor do people toss litter from their vehicles. I walked a mile of road

shoulder near Kootenay Lake last summer and found one small plastic bag with a McDonald’s cup inside it. There are no Golden Arches around Kootenay Lake, so it must have come from a tourist of which there are many.

A mile walk along Cowichan Valley highways would reveal a sickening amount of litter. Witness the mountains of garbage collected by high school students in this area last fall, a bulging bag every few hundred meters. The Valley Fish and Game club and Wilderness Watch collect gravel truck loads of junk on their forays into the woods. I’ve seen worse damping and littering, but only in Third World countries and backward regions of some U.S. states, never in B.C. or Canada. Some nearby portions of Vancouver Island, Nanaimo, Ladysmith, Courtenay and Chemainus, are almost as bad and parts of the Fraser Valley are right up there, but we take the crown as Canada’s top slob region.

Why? What can be done to curb bush dumping?

It is against the law to dump garbage randomly, but dumpers are almost never caught. The Litter Act is not a high priority with enforcement agencies, and people who dump garbage seldom leave anything with their name on it like cancelled cheques, mail or magazine subscription labels. When they are occasionally caught by a concerned person, the RCMP are glacially slow to take action.

Bush dumping will eventually cease as community attitudes toward the environment improve. For some reason, this area has been slow to adopt a green philosophy and a casual environmental attitude still prevails.

It shouldn’t last much longer. Help dispel it by encouraging your friends and neighbors to reduce, reuse and recycle. And if you know someone who dumps garbage in the woods, let them know that this foul deed is no longer acceptable. Inform them that the generation of swine is fast drawing to a close.


July 25/2020

I left Lake Cowichan in 1998 and lived in Chilliwack for twenty years. The situation was no better there. It may have been worse. The roads along the Fraser River and river bars themselves were loaded with junk. It was in Chilliwack that I was introduced to pallet burning for campfires. I guess the stores want to get rid of old pallets and they are there for the taking. People help themselves and they end up in burn piles on the river bars. After burning, loads of nails are left behind along with the usual garbage. Another Chilliwack junk feature was the large amount of yard slash. People of Chilliwack seem obsessed with keeping manicured yards and I have never seen so many lawn care/landscaping businesses. There is a green depot for yard waste but a lot of it also ends up in piles along backroads. Other businesses contribute as well. When Barbara and I lived in “the wack”, one of our favorite places was Murray Lake – a mountain lake not far from the Coquihalla Summit. Other Chilliwack people went there too on long weekends and such. One summer weekend a crew from a Chilliwack construction firm (Jakes) left truckloads of garbage behind in a meadow just north of the lake. It seemed like some of it was stuff they had brought up from job sites in the Fraser Valley.

Since 2018, we have lived in Port Alberni and I am pleased to report that the woods garbage situation is much better here. Mind you, access into the woods is highly curtailed by gates. These are supposed to be open on the weekends but you never can be certain and there is a constant fear of getting locked in if they are open. So people here don’t feel they have a license to dump their junk on logging roads. In fact I would venture to say there are more people picking up junk than dropping it off. Port Alberni folks also have put in substantial efforts to control broom along the highway.

So perhaps he corner has been turned and more people are cherishing the environment than trashing it.


Riparian Vegetation Important

Thursday, September 24th, 2020

The Lake News, Lake Cowichan, B.C., Wednesday, January 17, 1990

Riparian Vegetation Important

Stream bank vegetation is a very important component of healthy streams. It provides shade that reduces summer temperature, protects banks and property from erosion, acts as a buffer against sediment from upland runoff, insulates soils from the harmful effects of freezing and thawing and provides cover for fish in the form of root networks. The streamside canopy hosts a large number of insects in various stages of development. Many fall or are blown into streams and constitute an important food source for fish. This is especially so in many smaller creeks during the summer when some streams withdraw to isolated pools and the drifting food supply carried by moving water is no longer available. During this critical period, insects provided by the leaf canopy will make the difference between death and survival for many fish.

Leaves provided by riparian vegetation, especially alders, also contribute to the food budget of streams by providing forage for aquatic insects and contributing valuable nutrients as they decay. These nutrients, along with sunlight, form the base of the food chain in water and are very important in coastal streams which are nutrient poor due to high flushing rates and low nutrient soils.

Aside from biological considerations, streamside vegetation is an important esthetic element of the streamscape.

Most British Columbians are very aware of the values of streamside vegetation and the need to protect it. Logging companies, land developers, farmers, road builders and others are usually required to leave some vegetation along waterways. However, private land owners are usually not restricted and are sometimes tempted to include streams in landscaping projects. Some of these efforts result in complete removal of riparian vegetation. Unwittingly, these projects can damage stream banks and lower stream productivity.

The recently formed Lake Cowichan Village Waterways Committee will be sending a letter to property owners on the Cowichan River that stresses the importance’ of riparian vegetation and the need to protect and enhance it for the benefits of stream ecology and property protection.

The Upper River Riparian Zone is reasonably healthy but can be improved if property owners encourage the growth of natural vegetation like willow and red osier; low growing trees and shrubs with strong root networks that can be cropped if they grow too high or begin to create a jungle. A relatively narrow band is all that is usually necessary in most places and clearing narrow access paths to the river is compatible.

In these times of general decline in environmental quality, a community should do all it can to improve its environmental assets. The Cowichan River is one of our greatest.


A classic Upper Cowichan coho stream

Steelhead in BC

Sunday, September 20th, 2020



Steelhead is the name given to the great sea running rainbow trout, considered by many anglers to be the finest of sport fish. Some say commercial fishers provided the name because the fish were hard to dispatch when whacked on the head. Whether taken in October on a wet fly in Morice or Thompson, a dry fly on the Dean in August, a spoon in May in the Squamish or a spin – glo in December on the Cowichan, an encounter with a fresh run steelhead is always memorable for the angler.

Hatched and reared in the waters of western North American coastal river system, this magnificent fish migrates sea ward in its youth and grows to maturity in the energy rich waters of the North Pacific before returning to the river of its birth to spawn. Unlike salmon, steelhead do not necessarily die after spawning. Some survive and may return more than once to spawn again. Repeat spawners are rare however because he upstream migration, the spawning event and the readjustment to ocean life are strenuous and drain a great deal of the steelhead’s energy reserves.


When the massive ice sheets covered BC over 10,000 years ago steelhead survived in what are now Oregon, California and Northern Mexico. Imagine catching a steelhead in the Los Angeles River! As the ice retreated steelhead gradually recolonized the rivers of BC. They presently range from Central California to Alaska. They are also present in The Russian Far East on the Kamchatka Peninsula. Steelhead have been introduced to many exotic locales far beyond their native range.

Although a large portion of the4 world’s steelhead streams are located in BC, very few support large populations. Most of these streams drain small steep basins


A mint summer run from the Gordon River

which are low in soil nutrients, have wild flow fluctuations and cold water for most of the year and often do not allow migratory much access due to waterfalls close to the sea.

Some exceptional systems which have lower gradients are stabilized by lakes or drain lands rich in nutrients support larger populations. The Columbia River system including the BC section once supported large numbers of steelhead. Rivers further south like the Klamath, Rogue and Umpqua still support many more steelhead than the best rivers of BC. These streams drain richer lands with more gentle weather and terrain.

BC anglers should not feel too unfortunate however. We still have many beautiful rivers to choose from that support generally large fish. We must be aware of our stream’ limitations and govern our expectations. Currently, BC steelhead are just hanging on in many rivers and catch and release regulations have become universal in our province.


A steelhead begins life in late winter or early spring as a pink pea sized egg buried in river gravel. As the water slowly warms, the egg hatches and slowly begins to look like a little fish. Early in the summer, it begins struggling upward to the stream as an alevin which is about half fish and half egg. The shifting of the gravel by floods and the smothering effects of sand and silt prevent most eggs from reaching this stage: of several thousand eggs deposited by the female, only a few hundred generally survive to emerge as free swimming fry about 30 mm in length.

When the fry break through to their new environment, they quickly seek out the protection and gentle current of the stream edge. They feed on small insects and hide under stones at the first sign of danger. They are highly vulnerable and many are eaten by kingfishers, mergansers and larger fish or are swept downstream by higher flows. As summer progresses, the survivors grow and move to more favourable feeding stations further out in the stream. Chances of survival are increasing now but the heat and dryness of summer take their toll of young fish. This is especially true in watersheds that have been extensively modified by man.


A fry salvage crew works on a drying stream

As the rain and cool nights of fall begin, the steelhead juveniles now called parr or fingerlings gradually become less active and seek out a refuge area where they can avoid the perils of winter. Because they are cold blooded their body temperature falls and they can no longer muster enough energy keep pace with the increasing current. They try and find protected off channel habitat like side channels with groundwater input, riparian wetlands or areas of log jams or over hangs and boulder gardens where they can tuck themselves in. Winter is a time of stress and mortality: the survivors are strong fish that have chosen well protected hiding places.

When the milder days of spring finally return, the young trout seek out feeding stations back in the current to regain their strength and vigour. Spring is a bountiful time on the river and the fish grow rapidly. In a few of our most productive streams, some of them are now one year old fish and are large enough to undergo the physical and chemical transformation to smolts and move down to the estuary then out to the North Pacific. But for the majority one, two or even three more years is necessary to bring them to smolt size.

The ocean environment is less hostile and offers a rich energy supply. Young steelhead are quick to take advantage and grow fast .Most of them make their way to the open sea in the Gulf of Alaska where they spend two to four years growing to be the large beautiful trout so favoured by the angler. A few fish spend the summer feeding around the home estuary. They return to the river the following winter as 30 – 40 centimetre fish.

When their physiological conditions dictate, the open ocean steelhead begin the long journey to the home river. Summer runs are the first to show sometimes as early as March. They work their way into deep canyon pools and hold there ripening and darkening until they reach full sexual maturity late in the following winter or early spring. The more common winter runs begin entering the rivers in the late fall and winter and continue until April or May.

At spring spawning time the females select sites, usually near the tail spill of a pool, to construct a red or nest to deposit her eggs. In preparing the redd, the female turns on her side and with strong tail flexes, moves the gravel and small stones to form a depression some 15 cm deep. Males fight to position themselves beside the female. When the redd is ready, both sexes settle into it and simultaneously release eggs and sperm. The female moves upstream immediately and covers the eggs with gravel then begins to excavate another red and the process is repeated. She may lay from 3000 to 15,000 eggs depending on her size.


When spawning is done, the fish are much weakened. They hold near the red for a few days then drift downstream. They are termed kelts now and are often a sorry looking lot, dark and thin with worn tails and battle scared. Some will recover and mend but most will not make it.


BC steelhead stocks have undergone a steep decline since at least 1965. For decades, there was no information to work with. The BC Fish and Wildlife Branch began query anglers via a questionnaire in the 1960’s and that provided some clues. Anglers also began to respond in more direct ways. By the late 60’s, concerned fishermen, were expressing strong concern about the state of their resource. The province responded with more conservative regulations almost immediately and the fish started to respond. But the issue was not just one of too liberal catch, far from it. Many land use issues had driven down the fish. Logging was especially rough before the mid 1970’s but agriculture, dams, road construction and general urban development have taken a large toll. For decades BC was the land of dusty roads and ten cent beers where one could buy a good house for less than ten grand but those days are long gone. Now we have vast cities sprawling into what was wild country and five dollar beer.

The commercial fishery was also highly problematical in the steelhead decline. Some of the land use issues have improved greatly. I am especially proud of how the forest industry has improved, but commercial interception of steelhead by the salmon fishery has proven to be hugely vexing especially where the salmon runs have been enhanced and require intensive fishing to harvest them. Steelhead run in with the salmon and the fish are caught in nets which kill everything that encounters them including steelhead. General runs of salmon are also hurting so the enhanced runs are under even more pressure. Many people at much higher pay grades than I will ever see, have tangled


This slope on Upper Harris Creek was clear cut and slash burned – 1960’s

with this issue without much resolve. Commercial fishers are a fiercely independent, hard headed bunch who are barely hanging on themselves so it will take some kind of miracle – like intervention to solve this issue.

Every time I think of a Thompson River steelhead ending up in a net, I become enraged. And I have seen them in the native fishery near Chilliwack – lovely silver slabs hanging by their gills with the sockeye bound for the same river system.

The natives must feel about like the steelheaders but even more so because they have lost so much and it seems impossible to get more than even a shadow of it back.

I haven’t even spoken about climate issues and the changing ocean environment. Are these issues are even possible to mitigate? Before too long we all may know how the natives and the steelheaders feel. Indeed.

Ted Burns

August 2, 2020

This is a modified version of a publication called STEELHEAD TROUT IN BRITISH COLUMBIA published by the BC Ministry of Environment in 1981. It was written by me and featured photos by Eric Carlisle and Tony Pletcher and art work by Jack Grundle,



Girl releases a Cowichan River steelhead

Rose Yvonne

Saturday, September 19th, 2020

Rose Yvonne Swain – Grandma Rose was born 28 November 1882? Near Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. She died on Oct. 10, 1964 in Nelson, BC from cirrhosis of the liver. She was buried on October 15, 1964 in Nelson

Rose’s birth certificate says she was born Nov. 28, 1883 at Prince Albert. This was information that she provided the Saskatchewan government in 1941 when she applied for a birth certificate. She couldn’t locate her baptismal record (I have looked unsuccessfully in every nook and cranny for it). Her cousin Panteleon Schmidt was her informant. She was probably born earlier. Her Mother married Rose’s stepfather 10.5 months before the listed Nov. birth date. When her mother married Elzear Swain, the marriage register shows her name as Caroline Schmidt so Caroline never married Ralph Nome who was Rose’s father. It was probably more convenient for Rose to give her birth date 10 months after her mother married.(There are several other mistakes on her birth certificate other than the name of her father and the listed birth date: her stepfather Elzear was not born in England but in Manitoba,. It says children alive of this mother were Edmund and Rose. Rose’s mother married Elzar in St. Laurent not Prince Albert). As for where she was born, John Mc Nab Ballendin McKay was a witness on her Scrip application. He says he was a neighbour when she was born. He homesteaded at River Lot Township 46 Range 26 W2 which is some 25 km SE of Prince Albert. Rose never knew her father or his parents. She probably didn’t know her maternal grandmother either as he was estranged from the family. However she lived in the same area as her maternal grandmother and some of her aunts and uncles so she had some family around. The Schmidt relatives called her Yvonne because there were three other Roses.

Not much is known of her early years.

She was only three at the time of the Rebellion at Batoche but her family was affected .Her grandfather Alfred, his wife Emelei and four children were taken prisoner when Fort Pitt surrendered and were held six weeks by Big Bear. Her uncle Modeste was a member of the Battleford Rifles fighting for the rebels. Meanwhile her stepfather and brother John were on the opposite side. Elzear was charged with treason and held for four months in Regina before being released. Elzear’s brother John was killed at the Battle of Batoche and buried sitting up in a mass grave (Indian style). Her stepfather claimed land at Pt 2 & 9 Township 45 Range 27 in 1883. This is near St. Louis, SK. In 1891 they were living in St. Laurent, SK. In 1891 her stepfather is listed as a farmer. In 1901 he is listed as a hunter.

In 1900 they were living in Havre, Montana where they went about 1898. Eight of her step siblings were going to the Fort Shaw Indian Residential School there. Fort Shaw was considered “The Queen of Montana Posts” and was used as an Indian School after being abandoned in 1890. She had 10 step siblings. A number of Canadian Cree together with a small band of Chippewa’s from the Great lakes area lived a semi nomadic life in this area. For many years they moved between Montana cities such as Butte, Helena, Great Falls and Havre and in and out of Canada. They tried to obtain a reservation but were unsuccessful as they and their leader – Little Bear- were considered Canadians. The U.S. government tried unsuccessfully to deport them in 1896. Eventually they joined up with Chief Rock Boy and obtained the Rocky Boy reservation south of Havre in 1916. In 1900 and received Scrip as a Métis. In 1901 they were living in East End, SK. In the 1901 census she is listed as speaking French and English but her mother tongue is Cree and her racial origin is Cree SB (Cree Scotch Breed). Years later as a senior she still remembered many Cree words and prayed in French. She was devout Catholic and went to Mass daily for many years. Rose remembered travelling across the prairies by Red River cart and using buffalo dung as fuel.

In 1906 she was censused at the Commercial Hotel in Maple Creek, SK working as a waitress. Her mother and siblings were also there. When Rose and John Burns were married in Nelson, the Daily News said she was from Lethbridge. She told me she had lived in the Milk River Country in Southern Alberta .Her engagement notice calls her Rosie, popular local girl.

Rose arrived in Nelson about 1908. One of her sisters travelled with her settled in Ymir where she worked at the hotel. She died in the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918/19 and is buried in Ymir. Both Cousin John and Dad and I have searched for her grave several times but there is no marker. Rose was working as a waitress in the Hume when she met her husband to be.

She married John twice. The first time was at the Anglican Church (a compromise between Catholic and Presbyterian?) then six weeks later in the Catholic Church.


She enjoyed life as they became relatively prosperous. They had a nice home in town and a summer home on the North Shore. She could afford shopping trips to Spokane. It was said that if she wanted a piece of furniture badly enough, she would talk her husband into buying the house furnished. She enjoyed gardening and had a lovely flower garden at the summer home in Nelson as well as nice flowering gardens around the Ainsworth pool and hotel. She also had a big vegetable garden at their Ainsworth summer home along with fruit and berries. Rose learned to swim with her children at age 40 and learned to drive a car in her late 40’s. She was an expert seamstress and even made hats. She also loved music, dancing and reading. After her children were grown, she and John spent part of the winters in Vancouver. She took her daughter Jean to Saskatchewan to meet her relatives in 1917.

When John and Rose lived across the lake from Nelson, there was boat access only. They had boathouses on both sides of the lake and John kept a garage on the Nelson side. They had a variety of small boats – some with inboard motors, some were rowboats made at Walton boat works. The rowboats were beautiful and easy to row. They used to go over for the summer around April or May but would sometimes go earlier for a few days to get things ready. Gram loved these times and liked to make her tea from a spring on the property that was near a salt lick used by the deer. Rose was an outdoor woman long before the term became popular. She was not much for cooking and cleaning but she loved to hike. She often took the steep hike up to the reservoir ( the water supply which was a dammed spring up the mountain)or Pulpit Rock. She would take a cane she grabbed out of the bush and some fruit and head out. I sometimes went with her but could not keep up. She loved to tease me about that.

In their later years, John and Rose lived in a small house at 212 Latimer St. in Nelson. John was in poor health by then and was a bit hard to live with. When he died in 1962, Rose had a period of freedom. She bought a small record player and enjoyed listening to Elvis and other popular singers that John was not fond of. She also enjoyed reading and accumulated stacks of paperbacks beside the couch. Gradually her sight gave out – likely due to cataracts – and she died shortly after.

How much Indian blood did Rose have?

  1. Her great great grandmother Nowananikkee was a Salteaux Indian – Rose got 6.25% of her genes.
  2. If her great grandmother mother Marianne Genereux was Metis at 50%, Rose got 6.25% of her genes here.
  3. If her father Ralph was white, Rose would have 12.5% native blood.
  4. If Marianne was native, Rose would have 12.5% Indian blood
  5. If her father was Metis at 50%, Rose would have 25% native blood via him for a total of 43.75% native.


Elaine (my mother) and Gram on porch of old Ainsworth Hot Springs Hotel

circa 1940.


Young Rose

John Burns

Ted Burns


New Chinook Spawning Bed

Saturday, September 19th, 2020

Chinook Spawning Bed Installed Above Weir

100 tons of washed gravel was added to an existing chinook salmon spawning area just above the weir on the south side of Cowichan River on June 7. The purpose was to increase both the quality and area of the bed which consisted of pea gravel and sand – very marginal spawning habitat. Cowichan chinooks are on the decline again after more than a decade of strong returns. Only 1100 spawned last fall, a record low. Although the amount of spawning habitat is not a factor limiting chinook production, it was felt that improvement at this site would benefit the early run which is now nearly extinct and aid overall production. Lake outlets are ideal locations for spawning beds because of a stable supply of clean water and a rich food supply for emerging fry in the form of zooplankton (tiny animals that live near the surface of the lake). The weir spawning bed is the first place chinooks spawn in the Cowichan River and the only known location where early run fish spawn. These fish were formerly much more abundant than fall run fish and spawned in several Cowichan Lake tributaries like Shaw, Nixon, Sutton and Meade Creeks and Robertson River. There are probably less than 100 left from a population that was likely more than 100,000 prior to the early 1900’s.

The gravel was hauled up from Butler Brother’s pit near Duncan, loaded onto Wayne Robertson’s barge near Ashburnham Beach and towed almost to the site with a small tug. The water was too shallow for the tug to get the barge right to the site so it had to be lined down for the last 100 m and coaxed into place with an outboard. The gravel was then shovelled overboard by a seven-person crew consisting of Wayne and Owen Robertson, Philip Lorenson, Doug Blake, Chris Davis, Gord Neva and Ted Burns. Funding, equipment and materials for the project were provided by Norske Canada, Butler Brothers, South Shore Industries and the Pacific Salmon Foundation.

Ted Burns

Cowichan Lake Salmonid Enhancement Society

Summer, 2004.

Lake Cowichan Gazette



Photo : Loading gravel onto the barge at Wayne Robertson’s barge landing near Ashburnham Beach – Owen Robertson operator.


Photo : Towing the load to the site


Photo : 100 tons of gravel


Photo : Shovelling the gravel onto the spawning bed


Deer on the Move

Saturday, September 19th, 2020

THE LAKE NEWS, Lake Cowichan, B.C. Wednesday November 30, 1988

Deer on decline? Or Not?

By Ted Burns

I’ve forgotten the year but it wasn’t more than 10 or 12 years ago. I was searching for a waterfall on the east fork of the Robertson River when I came across a large rut in the ground, almost a trench. I scratched my head for a while before realizing what I’d found: an old deer runway (trail) from the days when the Cowichan Lake area had one of the largest deer populations on Vancouver Island. Those times are long gone. Deer have declined remarkably here and all over the island in the last few decades. The main reason …the tight canopy of second growth forests.

Early logging and accompanying fires created a bonanza for deer. Thousands of hectares of new slash and nutritious browse. And there was still lots of old growth to provide food and shelter in harsh winters. Deer became as numerous as grasshoppers in the dry fields of August. In the Nimpkish Valley, the last area in the Douglas fir zone to experience ideal habitat conditions, I counted more than 800 deer along a two-mile stretch of road. The year was 1972.

But the rapid progressive clear cutting that caused deer populations to climb is also the main reason for their fall. As the new forest returned, its canopy cut off sunlight and the deer food supply. Because logging was so rapid, large areas of relatively even-aged second growth now cover much of the east slope of Vancouver Island and deer are the worse for it. Deer were never abundant on the West Coast of the Island except in scattered pockets.

There are now more deer in old growth forests than in second growth. The stands are not as dense, there are more natural openings and the lichens that grow on old trees provide a good deal of food when branches are brought down by winds or decay. Tree lichens are the major food source of deer in winter.

Should a severe winter occur in the near future, there could be a catastrophic deer die-off because the winter habitat value of second growth is low. The last really hard winter on the South Coast was 1968-69. 20 years ago.

It’s not likely that there will ever be very large numbers of deer on Vancouver Island again in my life time. The old growth forests are still being opened on the West Slope but soil nutrients are low in cedar-hemlock forests and there are few deer even in ideal habitat. Deer will always be present however and there will be pockets of abundance as there are now, particularly in mountain herds and in the lowland resident deer around farm land.

There could be reasonable numbers of deer again if the rate of future logging is not so rapid and it is spaced over larger areas; a more patchwork pattern instead of progressive clear cutting. And if selected stands of timber are left to reach old age and provide winter range, deer numbers could someday approach those of years ago. There may still be a few stands of what I call core habitat – scruffy old growth on rocky south and west facing slopes with lots of lichens. These places must be absolutely protected. I don’t think it will happen but the choice is there.

Update – July 20, 2020

It is now 2020 and deer have become urbanized. There are more than a few places in BC where deer are now almost pests. I moved to Port Alberni in 2018 and, on the first trip downtown, we saw a four point buck marching down Third Avenue which is the main street. It was a quiet Sunday morn and Port Alberni is by no means an expanding metropolis. It has lost population since the 1970’s. But I was still surprised. I shouldn’t have been. The lady we bought our house from kept a paint ball gun handy to protect her flowers. We took no action and now have several deer that are part of the family. We are kind of on the edge of town and deer love the place. Important stuff is fenced but the deer are constantly on the lookout for something that over tops or pokes thru the


Other island communities are similar. Even parts of Victoria have deer. Some of these places are quite urban – to developed for deer but they are there, Never mind Grand Forks or Cranbrook which have lots of deer.

As surprising at it may be to see a deer family in your yard, you still do not see many out in the bush. Some people think that deer have adapted to the urban life for protection from predators. I think they are simply taking advantage of the superior habitat conditions provide by the favorable mix of openings, forest patches at variable seral stages along with gardens and fruit trees.

I should say that overall logging practices have improved greatly since the early seventies. Smaller, openings, less roads and improved streamside and riparian treatment but the rush to replenish harvestable stands is not going to change and most of the working forest will be tree farms of questionable habitat value for deer.

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A nice buck feasting on plums near my Lake Cowichan driveway