Thursday, April 28, 2016


Wildlife Viewing and Traditional Knowledge

When you hear the term “traditional knowledge,” at least for me from learning about it in university, I think of First Nations only. Traditional knowledge is the impressive understanding of the land that individuals hold from either being passed down through generations or from living in close connection to nature for a lifetime. My first wildlife viewing trip here at Chilcotin Holidays has taught me that First Nations are not the only ones with traditional knowledge. From a lifetime of living and guiding in this beautiful remote area, the owner of Chilcotin Holidays can tell you just how many herds of mountain goats (and most other species) are in these mountains, pinpoint exactly where each herd is on a map, and testify to the size of each population down to nearly every last individual. So accurate is his knowledge that biologists who come to the area for their own population studies only confirm the numbers he’s already claimed. So when we made are way down the back roads in our trusty SUV, looking for wildlife that we could record in our tracking sheets, our guide would point out to us just where the next group of animals would be. At first I thought Why there? I see no difference between that craggy slope and the one we just passed. Somewhat doubtful, I passed it off as coincidence when the two mule deer skittered up the slope right where he predicted. But when the bighorn rams showed up right where he predicted as well, and the female sheep herds in their places too, I began to think he might be on to something.

After a while the conversation in the car switched to bears. Being only early April still, it was far before the usual schedule for black bears to emerge from their dens (usually May 1 st ). But our guide said “oh they are definitely out now. This year, they are coming out early.” Considering the fact that he hadn’t seen a bear yet this season, I wondered how he could know this. Granted, it was a warm winter and an early spring, but how can you use these facts to determine the exact time bears will emerge from their dens? Science has been trying to formulate an algorithm for this for years. Maybe science should refocus their efforts from creating new knowledge towards incorporating traditional knowledge because true to our guide’s word, five minutes later we saw on the edge of the road the most impressive black I had ever seen.


About Unknown

We are a licensed guide outfitter and we conduct guided wilderness adventures throughout our 5,000 square km operating area. This guide area has been operational since 1880, making it the oldest in British Columbia. More about us HERE.

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