Additional moose management measures for Tl’etinqox-t’in Territory in the Chilcotin are about the preservation of moose first and foremost, says Tl’etinqox’t’in (Anaham) Chief Joe Alphonse.
“We need to see moose 150 years from now. It’s not just about non-Native hunters. Our plan of attack also includes all the initiatives we are taking internally within our communities in reaching our goals.”
On Thursday, the Ministry of Forests Lands and Natural Resource Operations issued a press release saying the B.C. Government and Tl’etinqox’tin Government Office have agreed to implement a joint resource stewardship plan to recover the moose population in the Anaham Range, and mitigate causes for their recent decline.
Moose inventories in the last two years have shown a considerable decrease in moose population in the Cariboo Chilcotin, ranging from a 17 per cent decline in some areas, to a 60-per cent decline in others.
Alphonse says if nothing’s done to mitigate the problem there will not be any moose in the future.
“We have to make sacrifices for the future,” he suggests.
One of the measures will see the ministry and First Nations jointly engage in hunter harvest monitoring, and management of predators and feral horses.
Managing feral horses will be difficult, yet important, because wild horses compete for the same habitat as moose, Alphonse explains.
“We have to go out there and control the overall population to make sure there isn’t an abundance of wild horses. Everything has to be in balance. When one resource is affecting another, things are out of whack. That’s what we’re seeing right now.”
In working out a stewardship plan, Alphonse had anticipated collaborating with government and industry, however he had not expected the BC Wildlife Federation to also come to the table.
The issues became more complicated and layered than originally anticipated because there were many different levels of people to come to the table to talk about what measures need to be taken, Alphonse says.
“Through it all I think we’re going to be able to develop a long-term relationship with one another. It was very encouraging,” Alphonse said of the process.
Alphonse hopes the public will appreciate and understand the measures.
“We had five years of meetings where we hadn’t gotten anywhere before with getting our issues addressed. I think we have now, and we will continue to be involved with the process to ensure wildlife populations come back to respected levels,” he says.
Rodger Stewart, manager of the Ministry of Forests, Lands And Natural Resource Operations for the Cariboo Chilcotin says reaching an agreement was both a relief to all involved, and a reflection of what needs to happen moving forward.
“We’ve got a variety of stewardship initiatives, and I know that Chief Joe reached out to us for some help. We need his help as well to be able to do recovery of the moose population. With those kinds of joint objectives, which combine with the objectives of the wildlife federation and the forest sector, there was solid grounds for us to come together on an agreement.”
West Fraser, Tolko and BC Timber Sales all have assisted in the discussions and looked at the need to manage active road densities in the area and taken some measures to assist with the agreement.
Road deactivation will take place in some areas, and foresters have worked with the Tlet’inqox to identify roads that are of a concern and are adjacent to sensitive habitats, Stewart says.
“It ties in with the broad stewardship responsibility we all have. We know that higher density of resource roads can have negative impacts creating cumulative effects for things like wildlife. If we can take a concerted strategic and tactical approach to managing access, we can implement the right state of environment to help recover and sustain wildlife populations.”
The ministry has looked outside of government for expert assistance to evaluate the moose population and evaluate what factors are having an impact.
Stewart says the results of that study should be available late February or early March 2013.