Project Funding

We are a volunteer run organization that is dedicated to the promotion and funding of sound wildlife and habitat management practices necessary to maintain viable Bighorn Sheep populations in our province. We work to ensure the preservation of our hunting heritage for today’s youth and tomorrow’s hunters.

WSFA partners with government agencies, universities and conservation groups to fund projects that will ultimately benefit Bighorn Sheep.

WSFA promotes conservation and responsible hunting practices to the next generation of hunters through scholarships and youth outreach.

CURRENT PROJECTS
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Fire Update 2018

There have been a number of prescribed burns that have taken place in the province this spring. Burns in the Hummingbird and the Wapiabi have taken place. Both burns are looking really good with a nice patchwork of unburnt, low and high intensity on the upper slopes in sheep habitat.

 Hummingbird BurnHummingbird Burn

 

Wapiabi

Update:Fire1

 

fire 2

Alberta Agriculture and forestry conducted prescribed fire operations in the Hummingbird and Wapiabi areas in the Spring of 2018. We completed 150 ha in the Hummingbird, all on west and SW facing slopes that are in sheep habitat. In the Wapiabi we burned a total of 835 ha from May 22 to May 28, over 600 ha of that are on upper slopes in sheep habitat. Both areas are open to the public now. 

 

Other Notable Fires for Sheep Habitat this year occurred in the Siffleur Wilderness Area (Porcupine creek fire). Total of approx 1884 Hectares were burnt.

 

As well as the Skeleton Creek wild fire in the Scalp creek natural area burnt approx 1243 Hectares.

 

 

 

Rocky Forest Area Situation

  • Since March 1, 2018 there have been 56 wildfires in the Rocky Forest Area that have burned a total of 3,140.63 hectares.

Provincial Situation

  • There are currently 12 wildfires in the Forest Protection Area of Alberta. 9 are under control and 3 have been turned over to the responsible parties.
  • Since March 1, 2018, Alberta has recorded 1,225 wildfires in the Forest Protection Area that have burned a total of 59,787.43 hectares
Ya Ha Tinda Carnivore Diet Analysis Study

With the use of scat detection dogs samples of predator scat have been collected for further analysis to determine the frequency of bighorn sheep detected in the samples. They are trying to determine whether predator distribution, prey distribution and/or landscape variables can predict the amount of bighorn sheep being preyed upon. Through improving knowledge of cause specific bighorn sheep mortality along the eastern slopes of the Rockies they intend to help assist in management decisions.

U of A – Cougar Diet & Habitat Selection - 2018

Overall, the research is not so much to document that cougars eat sheep (this is well known), but to highlight which cougars are killing sheep and which sheep are being selectively preyed upon. Specifically, the study is designed to answer questions about whether or not cougars target certain age-sex classes of bighorn sheep in the study area. By visiting kill sites and determining prey composition, we will be able to answer how cougars spatially select for prey species, age, and sex classes. Further, we will be able to document if indeed cougars are selectively killing rams. Likewise, the age and sex composition all sheep killers identified using stable isotopes can contribute to our documentation of which cougars are most likely to be sheep specialists.  Our research will contribute to the evaluation of alternative management actions to target sheep killing cougars. Recently, the government of Alberta implemented a new “boot season” to secure a larger harvest of cougars in mountainous WMUs, however, cougar quotas remain unmet. This might require enhanced communication with the hunting community about methods that can be more effective (e.g. use of predator calls). Although it is likely that greater changes to harvest practices need to be made. Data from our research can be used to inform harvest quota adjustments, evaluate new harvest regimes, and ultimately, contribute to the Alberta Government’s adaptive management plan.

 

Additionally, the project is providing insight into the reclamation process by mining operations. Using this information, Bighorn Wildlife Tech and Teck can target future landscape design to reduce forest fragmentation, increase forest block sizes, and/or increase distance between forest edges and escape terrain in an effort to ensure healthy bighorn sheep populations are conserved. Further, when the reclaimed mine land is returned to the Crown our results will contribute to formulating a scientific basis for how the land should be managed.

 

 

Wild Harvest Initiative

The Wild Harvest Initiative® is designed to evaluate the economic and social benefits of recreational wild animal harvests in Canadian and American societies. Founded upon and driven by a diverse partnership of individuals, business interests, conservation NGOs and government agencies, the project’s mission is to provide a first-ever evaluation of the biomass and economic value of wild food harvested by recreational hunters and anglers in Canada and the United States and to assess the wider community of consumers who share in this harvest. Its outcomes will contribute to conversations about the relevance of such wild animal harvest in modern North American society, exploring its connections to the conservation of wild lands and waters, the environment, and our own food security.  By conjoining these insights with existing economic assessments of recreational hunting and angling, and by evaluating the costs and mechanisms that might be considered necessary to replace this wild food harvest, the Initiative will also help focus a wider question facing conservation policy institutions in both countries; namely, if hunting and angling were to cease tomorrow, what would be the consequences?

Harvest Records Analysis – Evaluation of the roles harvest, demography, nutrition, and changing environments have on the horn size of mountain sheep

The intent of this project is for evaluation the role of harvest, demography and changing environments on horn size of mountain sheep. The long-term harvest records of bighorn and thinhorn sheep maintained by wildlife agencies have yet to be synthesized and analyzed in a consistent fashion; therefore, this effort will seek to evaluate factors responsible for any underlying tends in size observed with agency harvest records, with specific relevance to climate, harvest practices, and population characteristics. 

Bighorn Sheep Aerial Survey Report (Provincial Lands) - May 2016

Bighorn Sheep Survey of Designated Winter Ranges within Alberta Wildlife Management Units 437-446

Prepared by:

Jeff Kneteman
Environment and Parks, Operations Division, Upper Athabasca Region, Hinton

Wild Sheep Foundation of Alberta would like to acknowledge and thanks MSL Funding for these critical aerial surveys.
Carnivore Diet Analysis - Updated May 2017

Ya Ha Tinda Carnivore Diet Analysis Study

Kara MacAulay and Dr. Evelyn Merrill, University of Alberta

Submitted to: The Wild Sheep Foundation of Alberta

Genetic Study - April 2016

Spacial genetic population structure and implications for harvest management of Alberta's bighorn sheep.

WSFA, provided funding for this study. The report was submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Parks, Government of Alberta.

Authors:
Jamie Gorrell
Jeff Kneteman
David Hik
David Coltman

Demography Summary - January 2015

Ecological Resilience and Bighorn Sheep Workshop Demography

Jeff Kneteman and David Hik, Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, January 12, 2015

WSFA Funded Aerial Surveys

These reports summarize the results of sheep surveys conducted on winter ranges within the Clearwater Area and eastern parts of Banff and Jasper National Parks. Information on minimum counts, population trends, herd composition and spatial distribution are presented. Wild Sheep Foundation of Alberta would like to acknowledge and thanks MSL Funding for these critical aerial surveys. 

Habitat and Climate Summary - January 2015

Resilience of Bighorn Sheep Populations in the Northern Rocky Mountains

Majid Iravani (PhD, ETH Zurich)

Dr. David Hik Lab
University of Alberta