In 1992, in response to declining elk numbers, the majority of BC hunting regions moved to a 6 point or better elk season. This in my opinion has led to the great decrease in number and quality of elk
Instead of its proposed target of strengthening numbers I and many others have noticed an accelerated decrease in both number and size of bulls. I believe it has been a huge mistake to target the best of the breeding stock during the rut. BC is the ONLY region in North America that targets mature bulls with rifle during mating season (and the only region to face such a crisis in herd size).
Ranchers do not kill of their best breeding bull until it is too old to be effective. Studies of sperm motility in ungulate species have shown time and again the superiority of mature bulls over immature ones. Darwin first proposed it and it has been proven time and again since that there is a process called natural selection which occurs in all species from the smallest mosquito to the largest elephant that ensures only the strongest obtain breeding rights.
By maintaining an open rifle season during the rut on prime breeding bulls we have escalated the decline in BC’s elk and unless we make immediate changes, will continue to do so. Any biologist who cannot see the logic in this has forgotten their education or is working against BC’s best interests.
There are those that blame the decline solely on wolf predation. That is part of the problem but does not explain why the population started its decline in the late 1980’s and wolves did not become a problem until approximately 2010.
My proposed solution is that we close the general open rifle season on mature bulls until October 1st or later. This would allow better breeding opportunities for mature bulls and prevent the harvest when they are most vulnerable. I would still allow archery season in September as this does not target mature bulls and does not affect the numbers as heavily.
I feel changes such as this, if taken immediately can stop the decline before elk populations reach the point of limited entry hunting or worse yet no hunting at all.