FLORA AND FAUNA OF THE SOUTHERN CHILCOTIN MOUNTAINS
Being diverse in its terrain and ecosystems, the Southern Chilcotin Mountains harbors a wide variety of flora and fauna. Such bio-diversity is what attracts many to these mountains and is a pleasure to experience.
Coniferous forests prevail here, blending from mixed fir and pine in the lower elevations to spruce and fir in the upper elevations of the South Chilcotins. Unique low to mid-elevation aspen meadows support the multitude of wildflowers for which the Southern Chilcotin Mountains is renowned. Near treeline (at about 2000m elevation) and above, vast alpine meadows can also be found. Significant wetland areas provide aquatic ecosystems, usually at mid elevations. In general, the flora and fauna here are a mix of that found in BC’s coastal and interior regions.
Trees & Shrubs
Impressive old growth trees are also featured in the South Chilcotins. Trail Ventures BC has found birch, Douglas-fir, whitebark pine, and spruce giants throughout the area. Finding them, sometimes, is as easy as following the trail – you can’t miss them!
Wildflowers are the jewel in the South Chilcotin Mountain’s crown. Here, the wide variety of flowers is as impressive as their abundance. Vast meadows of ever changing combinations can be found from low elevation to alpine areas. Many of the trails pass through such florid areas.
For more pictures of wildflowers click here.
A wide variety of mushrooms subsists amongst the valleys of the Southern Chilcotin Mountains.
As a testament to its biodiversity and biotic importance, Nature Vancouver [Vancouver Natural History Society (VNHS)] has held various summer camps in the South Chilcotin Mountains studying its plants, fungi and animals. Click here to view reports on Nature Vancouver summercamps in the South Chilcotins on the Nature Vancouver website.
Click here to see a list of selected trees, shrubs, wildflowers and mushrooms identified by Trail Ventures BC in the Southern Chilcotin Mountains.
Many different kinds of beautiful butterflies and moths grace the South Chilcotins. The delightful mix varies from spring to fall. Trail Ventures BC has identified at least 10 different species of butterflies and we have noted that many more species of moths flutter about in co-existence. Several types of beetles, wasps, ants, bees, flies, grasshoppers, millipedes, centipedes, dragonflies also inhabit these mountains and valleys. The buzzing of cicadas is commonly heard amongst the tree branches in Gun Creek and Tyaughton Creek valleys in summer. We once found an impressive cave cricket under our backpack one morning in upper Manson Creek – these creatures love a dark and moist hangout. Within the wetlands thrive a variety of aquatic insects and larvae – Slim Creek, Grant Creek, Tosh Creek, Big Creek and Lone Valley Creek valleys are excellent places to check them out.
Blood sucking insects include no-see-ums, mosquitoes, blackflies, deerflies, with horseflies rounding out the mix. Basically, this combination is not usual for BC’s backcountry – even Vancouver’s north shore can have an equal bug factor. A few ticks reside within the very lowest elevations in early summer.
The Southern Chilcotin Mountains Guidebook provides insight to help you actually minimize the bug factor for this area through simple prevention and timing measures.
SPIDERS & MITES
Though not obvious, the South Chilcotins has its fair share of spiders – so look out! In wooded areas, you may walk through many webs along the trail but you will likely never see the culprits. In the grassy meadows your chances of a good viewing are better. However, arachniphobes need not worry!
Some slugs are found in the South Chilcotin Mountains. Evidence of more prolific fresh water snail occurence can be found in some ponds.
Frogs and toads are common in the Southern Chilcotin Mountains. Large, bumpy skinned Western Toads can be found wandering about in some damp alpine areas to 2250m elevation! They also tend to burrow and hibernate underground. A declining population has made BC the centre of the worlds distribution of Western Toads and indications show their numbers to be declining in SW BC. Red-legged Frogs and Columbia Spotted Frogs also inhabit this area. The population of Red-legged Frogs is declining and is of higher concern than the Western Toad.
Many species of birds make the South Chilcotin their home including eagles, owls, ravens, jays, Clark’s Nutcracker, woodpeckers, falcons, loons, ptarmigan and grouse. Interestingly enough, the symbiotic relationship between the noisy Clark’s Nutcracker and the whitebark pine is what allows this fine tree to exist. Without the help of these birds and squirrels, the tough and unopening cones of the whitebark pine would not release many seeds. Other bird species identified here include hummingbirds, chickadees, warblers, sparrows and finch. The VNHS identified 49 species of birds over a period of 2 weeks in 2001 in upper Pearson basin (sometimes referred to as Cinnabar basin).
Mammal viewing within the South Chilcotin Mountains draws many visitors to this region. Some packhorse tours are offered especially for this purpose. So it suffices to say that substantial mammal life exists here. The bigger attractions include Grizzly Bear, Moose, Mountain Goat, Grey Wolf and Bighorn Sheep. Much more common are timid Mule Deer, whistling Hoary Marmots and cheeky Douglas’s Squirrels. Other mammals include Black Bear, Mountain Lion, lynx, bobcat, wolverine, porcupine, weasel, martin, and fox. Several species of shrews, voles and bats also inhabit the South Chilcotins.
The Southern Chilcotin Mountains provides prime grizzly habitat so encounters with grizzly are possible. Practice bear avoidance measures: be aware of your surroundings, frequently make your presence known, hang your food, keep a clean camp, and carry bear spray. For more info regarding bear avoidance and encounters, visit www.wspa.ca.
Help to protect grizzly bears and report any grizzly bear sighting here: www.coasttocascades.org
To see a list of selected butterflies, amphibians, birds and mammals which Trail Ventures BC has identified in the Southern Chilcotin Mountains from 2002-2006, click here.
REFERENCES USED IN IDENTIFICATIONS