Adam Ford, a UBC professor, performs an ultrasound examination of a mule deer in the B.C. Interior. Ford heads up a new study that aims to assess the health and numbers of mule deer populations, with a view to enhancing habitat for the animals.


Deer, fish, and trees across the Okanagan will benefit from environmental projects announced Tuesday.

The Forest Enhancement Society of B.C. and the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation announced four Valley-related conservation projects worth a total of $130,000.

One study will look at how mule deer populations in the Valley are faring, focusing particularly on the animals' adaptations to wildlife and climate change.

"What we have heard from Indigenous communities, ecologists, and resident hunters is that the decline of mule deer matters to them and the status quo is no longer sufficient. It is time we bring more science to bear on issues affecting wildlife in B.C.," said project director Adam Ford of the the University of B.C.

Among other tools, the study will involve the use of GPS tracking collars, trail cameras, and pregnancy checks on wild doe deer to assess changes in deer populations at study sites.

Another study announced Tuesday will assess the health of the bull trout population, while a third has a broader focus of protecting a variety of fish habitats in the South Okanagan.

Also receiving funding is a plan to restore Black Cottonwood forests and ecosystems in the Kettle Valley watershed. The work is aimed at enhancing habitat for species deemed to be at risk, particularly the Lewis woodpecker.

The Okanagan area projects are among 180 environmental initiatives, worth more than $9 million, that are funded by the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C and which will take place across the province this year.

"This is no small feat," said Dan Buffett, the foundation's chief executive officer. Money for the projects comes from diverse sources, including hunters, anglers, trappers, and guides, along with court awards, government contributions and endowments, and partners such as the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C.