Research Branch

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The effects of juvenile spacing on wildlife habitat use during winter in the interior douglas-fir zone of British Columbia

Author(s) or contact(s): M.J. Waterhouse, R.J. Dawson, and H.M. Armleder
Source: Research Branch
Subject: Wildlife
Series: Research Report
Other details:  Published 1989. Hardcopy is available.


Juvenile spacing is a widely used stand-tending practice in the interior of British Columbia. While spacing is silviculturally beneficial, little research has directly assessed the positive and negative impacts on wildlife in various forest subzones. To address this problem in one specific subzone, a preliminary study was conducted in the 100 Mile House Forest District in the winter of 1987/88 (Waterhouse et al. 1988). Six blocks of multi-layered, mature interior Douglas-fir forest (IDFb2) were juvenile spaced in the fall of 1986 and 1987.

They demonstrate a variety of spacing densities and prescriptions such as minimizing slash depth, making trails and leaving unspaced strips of regeneration within the block. These blocks provided us with an opportunity to study the effects of spacing on habitat use by several wildlife species: mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus), red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), fox (Vulpes vulpes), coyote (Canis latrans), and moose (Alces alces).

The prime objective of this study (1988/89) was to collect more data to consolidate and extend the results and conclusions found by the preliminary investigation. Those conclusions were as follows: First, mule deer, moose, and coyote/fox strongly preferred moving along man-made trails to moving through slash. Second, snowshoe hares significantly preferred unspaced versus spaced areas, red squirrels tended to favour unspaced areas, and the other species showed no preference. Third, there was a trend for snowshoe hare track density to increase with width of unspaced strips left in spaced areas. Fourth, no relationships between animal use and distance from an unspaced/spaced edge were detectable.

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Updated November 14, 2008