Planning and Mitigation
Fraser River Bighorn Sheep
SGS participates in a bighorn sheep capture project. Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae (Movi) is the primary pathogen responsible for respiratory pneumonia in bighorn sheep. Once introduced to a domestic sheep herd, Movi can persist and transfer to wild sheep populations, and trigger a pneumonia outbreak, causing deaths in bighorn sheep. There is no effective treatment to address this health concern in bighorn sheep, and those sheep that are captured, tested, and actively shedding the bacteria are removed from the herd to break the chain of infection.
St’át’imc community technicians and SGS Environment continue to work with FLNRORD to monitor the health status of this wild sheep population and actively participate in the Fraser River Bighorn Sheep Working Group. FLNRORD is also currently developing an exclusion zone policy with St’át’imc (Lillooet Tribal Council band members), Secwepemc, and Tsilhqot’in Nations to keep a distance between domestic sheep and goat farms and wild sheep ranges to reduce the transfer of respiratory diseases.
Environmental DNA (eDNA) Fish Inventory and Sampling from the Bridge-Seton area
Environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling is a new method of capturing DNA in fish, amphibians, and other aquatic species. Organisms produce genetic material that can persist in aquatic environments as eDNA when expelled as sloughed cells, feces, or other exogenous processes. As a result, this technology allows for the accurate identification of fish species from only water samples, which is also straightforward, fast, more cost effective, and easily collected by a single person. It is possible to capture an inventory of entire streams using eDNA in comparison to other conventional field sampling methods that are labour intensive, invasive to sensitive aquatic ecosystems, and require experts to design and lead the program.
The species of concern and interest to St’át’imc communities include land-locked White Sturgeon and Salmonid populations in the Seton and Yalakom Watersheds.
The objectives of using eDNA methods include improving long-term monitoring of fish, amphibians, and other aquatic species. The objectives of this effort are achieved by:
- Additional professional and career development/training for the SGS Environment team and St’át’imc communities on the eDNA water sample collection and analysis;
- Participating in the fieldwork (learning to collect, filter, and preserve eDNA, and interpretation of results);
- Developing an organized inventory/database of eDNA from impacted streams; and
- Establishing a work order with Dr. Caren Helbing’s laboratory services for the White Sturgeon eDNA assay development, validation, and analysis at the University of Victoria. Establishing a work order with Bureau Veritas for the analysis of Chinook and Coho.