All posts by BC Wildlife Federation Blog

The BC Wildlife Federation is a province-wide voluntary conservation organization representing all British Columbians. This blog aims to showcase the people, programs, and projects that protect, enhance and promote the wise use of B.C.'s environment for the benefit of present and future generations.

Make your BC bloom with Nodding Onion

The Nodding Onion (Allium Cernuum) is something to behold with its light pink floral bouquet that hangs down off its stem. The Nodding Onion has soft, grass like leaves and a 1-2-feet, leafless flowering stem that grows from a bulb. The stem bends from the weight of a bouquet of tiny pink or purple flowers, that form in a cluster at the top. As the stem bends, the Nodding Onion takes the shape of a shepherd’s crook or a desk lamp, with the tiny cluster of flowers reaching towards the ground. The perennial does not give off a floral scent rather, true to its name, it gives off a mild, oniony aroma.

Nodding OnionNodding Onion is a pollinator’s delight. It attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and is regarded in having special value for native bees. Not only does this plant attract pollinators, but it is also beneficial for wildlife.  The bulbs are utilized by bears and ground squirrels, while elk and deer graze the early spring herbage. It is edible and is known to have medicinal benefits similar to garlic.

The Nodding Onion is quite adaptable, being one of its most remarkable features. It can grow in almost any situation, from full sun to deep shade. It is quite common throughout BC and can be found on dry rocky bluffs, grassy slopes, meadows, open forests, and steppe to subalpine zones.

For the most efficient growth, it is best to plant in the fall; the seed will remain dormant until early spring and will bloom in July/August. To start indoors, keep the seed in the refrigerator for 60 days then plant 2-3 seeds each in individual pots. Keep the soil lightly moist and the temperature around 15 degrees Celsius until germination. Germination may be slow, but you must keep the young seedlings moist until they become established. This plant adapts well to almost any soil and can survive in shade, clay, or rocky soil. Mature plants tolerate drought very well and do not often need watering.

If you are interested in spreading more Nodding Onion around your yard, you can propagate the seeds. The best time for seed collection is in September. To extract the seeds, it is best to shake the dried seed heads into a collecting bag. You should store the seeds in a cool, dry area. They can be stored at 3-5 degrees Celsius for up to 6 months. The seeds can be cold stratified and then germinated at 10 degrees Celsius. Germination is equal in light and dark. The best method of treatment is to sow fresh seeds outdoors in containers or flats soon after collection and allow dormancy to be broken naturally.

Make Your BC Bloom!

Homegrown Worms: An Angler’s Guide

Bait, it’s one of those things where you can never be too picky. I am not a big bait fisherman; however, I do understand that some days bait is the only way to go. I used to buy worms by the dozen from my local tackle shop. They would work, but it almost seemed like the fish were used to the scent and look of the worms. After looking into alternative bait options, I decided I would start my own small-scale worm farm.

I should mention that I live in a one-bedroom apartment with my fiancé. Imagine trying to convince your fiancé, significant other, or roommate to be okay with having tenants of this sort in such a small space! It took a bit of convincing, but I got her onboard in the end. After doing some research on containers, habitat, food, climate and harvest, I felt comfortable enough to get my ‘farm’ up and running.

The most common question I get is, how do you reduce the smell? What most people don’t realise is a healthy worm farm should not stink, it should have a very neutral smell. If it stinks, you are doing something wrong.

How to build your own worm farm:

IMG-0846I went to Canadian Tire to buy two Rubbermaid containers. I drilled hundreds of 1.5mm holes all over the bottom of 1 rubber maid and placed it into the other container. This allows the liquid to drain from the top bin into the bottom bin, which prevents the worms from drowning. I drilled more holes into the lid and the top third of the container to allow air flow. This reduces temperature, smell and increases the oxygen levels.

Once this was done, I put a 5-inch-thick base layer of shredded moist newspaper in the worm farm. I went to PetSmart and bought a couple dozen worms. They quickly reproduced, enjoying a diet of plant based green waste and a few egg cartons every now and then.

Feeding your worms:

IMG-0845During the colder, winter months the worms go a bit dormant, but you still need to supply them with food. Typically, I will feed them once a week during the winter. As the temperature increases and the worms become a bit more active you should start feeding them twice a week or when the food is all eaten-up. Worms can go a couple of weeks without food, but like most living things they will eventually starve if they don’t get any sustenance.

It is important to supplement their diets with finely crushed egg shells and corn meal from time to time to increase their size and fatten them up for fishing. It is imperative to not overfeed them. Worms can eat about half their body mass in one day. You will quickly know if you have over fed them if you see food rot and smell foul odours.

Tip: If you freeze your food waste before feeding it to the worms, it will reduce the chance of getting fruit flies.  

IMG-0844I have had great success with my home grown red-wiggler worms. As soon as you string them on the hook you can smell a stronger and more aromatic scent compared to the regular store-bought worms. The strong, hearty smell, plus the bright red color of these worms, make them an irresistible bait for many fish.

I highly recommend you try this at home!

Our next Reel Fishing workshops are April 27 – 28, May 25 – 26 and June 22 – 23. Register for this hands-on angler education course today –> Click Here

~Tobias Roehr

Ice Fishing the Fishing Highway

5 am, alarm goes off. I think to myself, “should I hit snooze, or sleep in?” at the same time I remember that feeling when a fish takes my bait and I pull it up through the ice, so I get out of bed. My friends and I have three short days in Clearwater, BC to explore the ‘Fishing Highway’.

IMG-0835I begin the process of gearing up for a day on the ice. Starting off by going over my packing list:

  • Long johns, base layer, wool sweater, snow pants and snow jacket
  • Gloves, toque, heat pockets, snow boots and sunglasses
  • Ice auger, ice scoop, depth sounder
  • Fishing rod and reel
  • Flasher, flutter spoon, UV rattle spoon, UV jigs and split shots.
  • Bait: shrimp, and homegrown live worms
  • Camp chair, BBQ, hotdogs, water and a thermos of hot coffee

Feeling ready, I grab some breakfast, start warming up the car and we make the drive to our fishing spot for the day. Arriving at the lake we load up the sled and trek through the snow on to 14 inches of ice. A tingly feeling jolts through me as the excitement of ice fishing builds. There is something about boating on a lake one season and walking on it the next that exhibits a true Canadian experience for me.

Finding our spot, we begin to unload and use our hand auger to drill the first hole. Using a hand auger to drill through 14 inches of ice is exhausting and never fun, but with the excitement of fishing in mind we make it through quickly. All set and baited up the first IMG-0836line drops, BOOM! Instantly my friend yells “FISH ON!”. In disbelief I watch her pull up a beautiful 12-inch rainbow trout. Excited by the prospect of more to come she releases this one. We check the fish finder to see that fish are being read at 5ft., 10ft., 14ft. all the way down to 30ft. Soon after, a double header for my friend and I. After that the hits continued to come fast and furious. By the time lunch rolled around we had nearly reached our possession limit of fifteen, five trout each. After a quick bite to eat we got back to it and reached our limit for the day. We packed up the sled hauled back to the truck to make the drive back into town.

Reflecting on the day I was happy how well the gear I brought worked. The UV flasher with a UV jig underneath it proved its success yet again. Even though there is a large amount of sunlight penetrating the ice I prefer using UV flashers and jigs. ‘Shiny’ flashers do not give off a great sparkle under the ice. UV reflecting flashers on the other hand are designed to ‘glow’ in conditions with low direct sunlight where ultraviolet light can still reach. These flashers or jigs have a specially formulated pigment that reflects ultraviolet light giving them a ‘glow’. This will attract fish from a further distance as well as induce a strike. When bait fishing for trout I like using natural baits when possible, always check regulations. In my experience the scent and visual effect natural bait gives off proves to be superior over most plastic baits.

Now, off to the smoker to smoke some fresh trout to enjoy during the weeks to come.

I like to use this recipe, per 1 lbs of trout. The cayenne pepper gives the sweet tasting fish a bit of a spicy kick.

  • 3 cups of brown sugar
  • 3/4 cups kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper

Want to enhance your fishing skills? Sign up today for Reel Fishing, click here!

~Tobias Roehr


A life of hiking mountains and paddling waters: In memory of Richard Simpson

On February 2nd, 2019, Richard Larke Simpson, born Dec 4th, 1944 known to his friends as Rick, passed away peacefully at the age of 74 after courageously battling cancer.

He is survived by his partner of over fifteen years Gael Russell, his son Richard Kemp Simpson, his daughter Kelly Suzanne Simpson, the mother of his children Grace Bartel, his brother Jeffery Simpson and his sister Victoria Nuttall.

DSCF1604Rick had an intense and infectious passion for the outdoors. For over thirty years, his primary pursuits were focused on improving fish habitat, building up strong fish populations and passing on his passion and knowledge to the next generation of young outdoor enthusiasts. He loved working with groups of children during many community events and often described the joy he felt as they learned something new about fish biology or habitat. Rick had faith in his community and loved connecting with other conservationists and families at the clubs and organizations he was actively involved with in British Columbia.

Rick was especially proud of his work with many First Nations groups over the years and had his own personal universal vision that incorporated a beautiful blending of western and First Nations beliefs.

Rick Simpson was the Chair of the BC Wildlife Federation Region 8, fisheries committee from 2003 to 2018. He was also the Interior representative for the BCWF Inland Fisheries Committee. Rick was a member of the BC Wildlife Federation for 37 years, since September of 1981 when he and his family moved here from Edmonton. The first club he was a member of was the Port Coquitlam and District Hunting and Fishing Club. Rick got heavily involved in the new hatchery at the time in the Coquitlam Watershed. He helped with various projects from 1981 to 2003. He was very proud of the fish and habitat restoration projects he was involved in with the club and the watershed.

DSCF5636When asked in an interview last year, why he became involved with so many projects, Rick said, “It made me feel like I was giving back. I had been a hunter and an angler, and I was given the opportunity to do habitat restoration, and salmon enhancement work, I was given the opportunity to give back to the resource. I could do hands on stuff and see the results. It’s very gratifying. I hope the future will hold more projects that will help conserve British Columbia’s resources for my children, my children’s children, and my children’s children’s children to enjoy. I want to make sure that we leave this place that we’re in right now in a better state. I’m talking about the environment. I’m talking about fish. When I pass on, I want to be able to say to St. Peter, ‘I got a lot of black marks, but I really did try hard to make this a better place for my children.’”

Rick will be deeply missed as he now walks the mountains and paddles the waters with the creator. May he rest in peace.

Does and Fawns collared this winter

Mule Deer
Volunteer, Brad Siemens helps collar a doe.

Our Southern Interior Mule Deer Project team was busy throughout December capturing more adult does and fawns in our study areas.  They have captured deer via net-gunning from helicopters and ground darting.  They will be moving to ground capture with clover traps in the coming weeks.  Given this is a first effort at such a large-scale project for B.C. we are learning a lot about capturing and collaring deer.

Thank you to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation who provided funding for fawn collars for the project. This winter, the team plans on capturing and collaring 60 mule deer fawns spread throughout the three study areas.

Most of our collared adult does had returned to winter range by the middle of October, with some moving back as early as September.  This may result in changes to the low elevation mule deer (non-migratory) limited entry hunting season which currently occurs in October in the central Okanagan region to ensure the season is in fact targeting non-migratory deer.

Southern Interior Mule Deer project (5)Volunteers, and team members from the Fish and Wildlife Branch, Okanagan Nation Alliance, UBC-O, and University of Idaho will continue to catch deer until March.  We are hoping to get collars on 90 adult does, and 60 fawns for 2019.

Camera traps will be going out this spring once our research team has collected a full year of deer movement data. This data will then ensure that we are placing our camera traps in a variety of habitats used by mule deer in both their winter and summer ranges.

The team is meeting in early March to evaluate our progress to date and coordinate activities between our partners for the coming year.  We will be conducting more mortality investigation training and hosting camera trap training for our volunteers as well.

The Southern Interior Mule Deer project is the largest collaborative mule deer research project in British Columbia history. We rely on the dedicated volunteers and team members of the Okanagan Nation Alliance, BCWF members and clubs, Fish and Wildlife Branch, UBCO and the University of Idaho. This project would not be possible without your help, nor would it be possible without the contributions from our various supporters. A big thanks goes out to our direct members who have donated to this project and to the following clubs and associations:

Kelowna and District Fish & Game Club, East Kootenay Hunters Association, Summerland Sportsmen’s Association, Traditional BowHunters of BC, G.F Wildlife Association, Okanagan Region BC Wildlife Federation, Vernon Fish & Game Club, Kamloops and District Fish & Game Association, Vernon Fish and Game Club, North Shore Fish & Game Club, Oceola Fish & Game Club, Kettle Wildlife Association, Southern Okanagan Sportsmen’s Association, the Pemberton Wildlife Association and the Mission and District Rod & Gun Club.

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Populism and the Ban on the Grizzly Hunt

Several questions have come up after the recent news of a guide outfitting company launching a class-action suit against B.C.’s ban on the grizzly bear hunt.

The BC Wildlife Federation will take no position on this matter because, as a conservation organization, the BCWF is not in the business of supporting court cases for guide-outfitters or any other industry that seeks compensation from the government. This lawsuit is focused on compensation for guide outfitters.

Nevertheless, the BCWF continues to be in full support of the re-opening of the grizzly bear hunt. The BCWF will continue to support science-based decision making, not populist-based decision making. The decision by the B.C. government to ban the regulated grizzly hunt to all but Indigenous hunters is a prime example of a populist-based decision.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines “populism” as: Political ideas and activities that are intended to get the support of ordinary people by giving them what they want. The ideas are often put forward in the absence of science or analysis of the long-term policy implications. The threshold for populism is often driven by “popular support” for an idea, not because it is rational, stable or in the best interests of the resource, but because it is politically popular and in the short term will garner political support.

The question is, do you want your government to make the popular decision, or the rational decision? The former is driven by the public opinion, the latter by rigorous analysis of the consequences in terms of what is in the best interests of the resource and the populace.

grizzly-1180556_1920In B.C., 78 percent of the public, according to the government is against the hunting of grizzly bears. But a rigorous analysis was conducted by the B.C. Auditor General and the conclusion was that hunting was not seen as a threat to grizzly bear sustainability and was considered a minor factor within the issue of larger habitat management.

Prior to a final decision on grizzly bear hunting, government was left with two choices; leave the status quo or ban all licensed hunting of grizzly bears.

Populism won the day and now there is no hunt. First Nations can continue to hunt if they choose. The larger issue is this constitutionally protected right will be hollow when their fish and wildlife populations are gone. The right to gain economically from commercial uses of natural resources under the UN Declaration of Indigenous Peoples is also in question. First Nations have strong voices and can speak for themselves on how, where and why they want to engage in the grizzly bear debate.

As for what the BCWF is doing about the grizzly bear hunt ban, it is anticipated that some First Nations will initiate grizzly hunts as early as this spring, as they have the constitutional right to do so. This may well lead to some opportunity to re-open the discussion with government. If and when such opportunity arises, we will take the same stance as we did before – hunt based on science.

At the Heart of the Fraser

Submitted by Jenny Ly

Since the BCWF Fall Harvest Celebration, hosted to applaud those that have worked endlessly to save the heart of the Fraser River and continue to raise awareness of the issues at hand, I have spent a lot of time pondering on the discussions given.

I’m shocked at the events actively happening around the area. I am also failing to understand why anyone presented with the facts would want to do harm to an ecosystem. Especially since it has such a direct impact on all the things we love about our beautiful British Columbia, such as our cherished salmon and sturgeon.

In case you missed the Fall Harvest Celebration… 

IMG_1301I’m so grateful to have been invited to such a lovely evening filled with food, friendly faces, and festivities. Walking into the event, hosted appropriately at the Fraser River Discovery Centre, I was surprised at the lofty fun space, a hidden gem in New Westminster and the grand set up of the Fall Harvest.

On one side of the space, there were tables lined with generously donated silent auction items from local wines, outdoor adventures and art. The other side was where I spent the majority of time connecting with the guest – can you guess what that area contained? If your mind wandered off to the food and wine, you’re correct! Oh, it was a gorgeous spread of a continuous supply of cheese, meat, and seafood bites. The highlight was the warm bites which included things like wild game meatballs created by Chef Tammy Wood and Tiffany Bader. Heck, there was even deep fried cheese! Both ladies had dreamed up a menu that pleased all palates and delighted the guests.

Things you should know about the “heart of the Fraser River”

Jenny Ly and Marvin RosenauThe guest speakers of the evening included Harvey Andrusak, Mark Angelo, Ken Ashley, Marvin Rosenau, and Jesse Zeman. Below are some important highlights of the discussions these men hosted:

– The heart of the Fraser consists of islands that make up a (very rare) large area of gravel beds from Hope to Chilliwack and is considered a global treasure.

– There are only five islands left, and most of them are logged. The motivation to develop the area is for cheap land and profit.

– Currently, developers have applied to build a bridge connecting from the mainland to one of these islands, if built it will lead to the destruction of critical fish habitat.

– When these islands flood, the gravel areas are perfect spawning conditions for salmon and the ancient sturgeon.

– The area is home to about 40 species of fish in many stages of their life.

– Destroying this area will have a direct impact on the salmon run and salmon are a prime food source for our already declining population of killer whales.

Action items you can take to help defend this crucial habitat

  1. Follow BCWF for more information and updates on efforts made:
  2. Sign the Heart of the Fraser river petition:

I strongly feel that everyone should be aware of what is happening at the heart of our Fraser River. Please share this article with those that you feel would appreciate a high-level overview of the matters at hand.

Out in the woods with a Fisheries Technician

Meet Heather Vainionpaa. She is a Fisheries Technician with a Diploma from BCIT’s Fish, Wildlife and Recreation Program and a BSc. in Biology (Ecology, Evolution and Conservation). She has a pet fish named Charles and a few dozen house plants taking up every inch of window space in her house. This is her story:

IMG_1443Growing up we always had game in the freezer. My dad was, and continues to be, an avid hunter, as was his dad before him.  I was interested in hunting but was slow to start as I always had school in the fall, so it wasn’t until I was 22 and had finished my undergrad that I took the C.O.R.E. training to get my license. Even then I didn’t go on my first hunt for another year or so; looking back I’m not sure why I waited so long. The push that finally got me out there was my grandpa passing away.  He had been super keen to get me out hunting and I remember him showing me his .243 that he wanted me to hunt with.  He and my dad were always hunting buddies, so that first fall without him I finally got my butt in gear and went with my dad. I really regret not having the opportunity to go hunting with both my Pappa and my dad together, as I have so much fun with my dad every trip- regardless of whether we come home with a bag full of meat or just new stories.

I continue to hunt for a number of reasons. Firstly, I really enjoy the time spent in nature with my dad. There’s a camaraderie that comes from sharing a hunting trip with someone, or with a group of people.  I also just love being outdoors and hiking into areas that not a lot of people see. I love finding tracks of any kind and trying to guess what it is and where they’re going, and frequently nerd-out over plant ID or spotting different types of fungi.  I enjoy the challenge of hunting, trying to move quietly while being alert to your surroundings. I also really enjoy eating game.  Sitting down to a meal that you provided for yourself is immensely satisfying. It also comes with the added benefit of knowing exactly where your meat came from.  I continue to hunt because I want to learn more and become a better hunter, I’m still a bit of a rookie in a lot of ways.


My greatest hunting experience is a tough one to answer, if I was forced to choose it would probably be from my first moose hunt. We had a Bull Moose draw and were maybe 4 or 5 days into our trip. I had just shot my very first grouse and my dad and I were celebrating when he glanced over my shoulder and his eyes went huge.

IMG_1547A massive 13 point bull moose had just strolled out of the trees up the road from us. It was pretty nuts, after days of hiking into tricky spots and staking out for hours calling, we just happened upon one through sheer luck. I guess that would be my beginner’s luck kicking in.  It was a pretty cool moment to share with my dad.

I love the new experiences that hunting brings, I’ve seen so much in the short time that I’ve been hunting. I’ve drifted down a river while a beaver slapped his tail at me; I’ve sat for hours watching a Northern Harrier hunt; I’ve stood still while a buck strolled around me through the woods 10 metres away; I’ve watched two grizzlies wander through a meadow through binoculars.


Hunting is important to me because through it I find both a connection to people and to nature, and I want to keep having more new experiences like these.

Heather and her dad will be heading out this weekend for their first hunt together for the season.