Sheep Vegetation Management Guidelines

1.0 Introduction

Sheep were first used experimentally for vegetation management in the Cariboo region of British Columbia in 1984. Since then, trials have been undertaken in all regions of the province and have shown that sheep grazing is a successful means of managing vegetation on certain forest plantations under specific conditions.

However, the introduction of sheep to natural wildlife ranges may impact:

• native habitat and biodiversity;

• carnivore populations, through displacement and through conflict with humans as a result of predation on sheep; and

• native ungulate populations, particularly wild sheep and mountain goats, through disease and parasite transmission.

Therefore, to ensure the proper and safe development of the industry, the Interministry Committee for the Use of Domestic Sheep for Vegetation Management was formed in 1990. To reduce risks to acceptable levels, the Committee recommended that clear guidelines be developed for use by all government agencies and forest and agroforest industries involved in carrying out sheep vegetation management.

In 1992, the Committee, in cooperation with sheep producers and contractors, the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks (MELP), the Ministry of Forests, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Foods (MAF), developed "Interim Guidelines." These covered the protection of environmental components such as native carnivores, ungulates, other wildlife species and their habitats, and outlined standards for the humane care and proper husbandry of domestic livestock. For two seasons these were field-tested while, concurrently, the impacts of sheep vegetation management projects on carnivore populations and domestic sheep health were monitored. Results from both the field-testing and the monitoring have led to further modification of the guidelines.

The recommendations presented here should be used in conjunction with the Ministry of Forests' Sheep Grazing Guidelines for Managing Vegetation on Forest Plantations in British Columbia (Newsome, T., B. Wikeem and C. Sutherland, 1995).

Next Section: 2.0 Planning

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