Boyce Lab

Julien Gullo, M.Sc.


Movement Ecology of Stone’s Sheep in response to hunter presence

Nearly all of the global population of Stone’s sheep (Ovis dalli stonei) live within remote regions of northern British Columbia (BC). As a game species coveted by recreational hunters, Stone’s sheep face varying degrees of pressure in some localities, such as the Spatsizi Plateau, where they are routinely and intensely sought. Increased anti-predator behaviours used by sheep avoiding hunters on the landscape (behavioural non-consumptive effects; NCEs) are likely to manifest in changes to habitat selection and movement patterns, and other behaviours, and are expected to result in effects to individual fitness. Without accounting for these behaviour changes, the total effects that hunting might have on sheep fitness remain unknown. Identifying the NCEs of hunting on sheep behaviour is an important step in fully realizing proactive and cumulative effects-based management strategies of these animals.

In this research, we aim to identify some of the NCEs that hunting activities may have on Stone’s sheep behaviour, focusing on habitat usage, movement, and group dynamics. Using GPS telemetry data collected from sheep and hunters, remote camera-trap imaging, habitat selection modelling, and movement and group size analysis, we will measure changes in sheep behaviour in response to seasonal fluctuations in hunting activity.

Our research seeks to improve the management of Stone’s sheep by expanding the informational landscape available to harvest managers. Our results may enhance management outcomes for Stone’s sheep and similar species and could have broader implications for developing management strategies to reduce human disturbance on wildlife. For more information on this project, please get in touch with Julien Gullo (