Peace River residents are being encouraged by the Ministry of Natural Resource Operations to participate in the 4th Annual Public Winter Wildlife Count.

The Ministry is hoping to persuade hunters, First Nations, agricultural producers, naturalists and families to participate in a one day event to help keep up-to-date and accurate wildlife records for the Peace River area.

The count first began several years ago after the Ministry received complaints from local farmers and ranchers about wildlife communities causing agricultural crop damage, says Conrad Thiessen, a wildlife biologist with the Ministry. Thiessen says the Ministry wanted to change hunting regulations for certain wildlife populations, but first had to collect information on specific species population densities.

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The wildlife count will take place on Jan. 15. The count is only being conducted over one day to help avoid double counting.

Participants are asked to count mule deer, white-tailed deer, moose, elk, coyotes, wolves, foxes and sharp-tailed grouse. The Ministry is also asking people to write down if any animals appear sick so that those numbers can be recorded.

Thiessen says there are approximately 400 blocks making up the survey area and each group of people is given one block to survey throughout the day.

He says the survey is a great way for residents to get involved in wildlife management and spend time with their families.

The Ministry will also be awarding prizes to some residents that come out and participate.

Anyone interested in getting involved with the wildlife count can contact the Ministry at 250-787-3411 and ask for Nick, Lori or Conrad.