Now that the enormous wildfires of the area are yielding to the autumn weather, including a freak snowstorm last week, residents are taking stock of their scorched earth.
Fires like Shovel Lake, Nadina Lake, Verdun Mountain, and many others drastically altered the landscape in the Lakes District-Omineca regions especially.
Those ecosystems are in disarray and for the ungulate populations of moose, deer, elk and so on, the fire topsy is now followed by hunting season turvy.
Dawn Makarowski, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development, said the provincial government was in the process of assessing the criss-cross of hunting estimates made earlier in the year versus the new environmental reality where fires swept wildlife out of their usual habitats.
"It is too soon to say whether hunting restrictions in wildfire-affected areas near Francois Lake (or other fire-affected communities) will be implemented under the provincial Wildlife Act, however regulations may be considered to reduce the vulnerability of wildlife to hunting," Makarowski said, and urged those with an interest to frequently monitor the provincial government's website dedicated to hunting.
According to data from past B.C. wildfires, wildlife populations are not much affected by wildfires. Most animals escape the flames.
"The stress that wildfire puts on populations is a short-term displacement resulting from a brief removal of forage and, potentially, security cover," Makarowski said.
The long-term effects of a large wildfire can have a positive result for flora and fauna in the affected forest. Regrowth and renewal are healthy for forests that have experienced a large burn.
"However, there are some concerns that arise in the presence of large-scale wildfires and wildfire suppression," Makarowski said. "Specifically, wildfires can create two situations that increase the vulnerability of hunted big game."
The first potential problem is from fireguards, the wide highways of dirt plowed through the bush along the front lines of a fire to block its advance. The construction of access roads has a smaller but similar effect. It makes it easy for hunters to use vehicles into ungulate areas never before accessible.
The second potential problem is simple line of sight. Fire guards and burn areas are devoid of underbrush. The intended targets are much more exposed to the aiming of bows and rifles.
"Ministry staff assess habitat conditions in wildfire-affected areas in order to determine the extent of habitat loss and to support possible management actions. Wildlife values will be considered and addressed in all wildfire rehabilitation activities, as well as in future timber harvest and silviculture decisions within the burn areas."
That assessment work is underway.