Tsilhqot’in Nation leaders and concerned community members will attend an emergency meeting July 10 in response to recent provincial moose harvest allocations in Tsilhqot’in territory. File photo

B.C. First Nation calls emergency meeting to discuss moose allocation

The Tsilhqot’in Nation will meet on July 10

A First Nation in British Columbia’s central Interior has called an emergency summit to respond to the provincial government’s moose harvest allocation in the region.

“We have to take action,” said Chief Joe Alphonse, Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG) tribal chairman Wednesday. “They know our position, yet they want to go ahead keeping the harvest in the Chilcotin open and we are not in agreement with that.”

Alphonse said a lot of families, his included, have not hunted during the last few years because of a declining moose population.

“We are making these sacrifices, yet we see all these LEH-hunters coming into our territory.”

Alphonse said they are calling all chiefs, councillors and anyone else who feels they can contribute to attend the meeting, which will take place on July 10 in one of the Tsilhqot’in communities yet to be determined.

Read more: Cariboo First Nation signs landmark moose hunt agreement with Conservation Officer Service

“We have Aboriginal title and rights, and if they aren’t going to acknowledge that we are going to fight back,” Alphonse said. “We have the province every year come and meet with us and then not venture from their position. We will be looking at the fact they’ve made a ruling about the moose hunt without our consent.”

The Wildlife and Habitat Branch in an e-mailed response said the decision to go ahead with allocating the LEHs was reached after months of consultation and collaboration with local First Nations and other stakeholders, including the TNG through the Fish and Wildlife Panel established under the Nenqay Deni Accord.

“While consensus was not achieved, First Nations’ perspectives were a significant part of the process,” noted a spokesperson. “Consultation with the TNG and other First Nations is ongoing with respect to moose management.”

In addition to the consultation leading up to the decision, after the decision was communicated, the director of Wildlife and Habitat has offered to go to the Cariboo and meet with the Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG), as well as other First Nations and interested regional stakeholders.

“We are still waiting to hear if this offer is acceptable to organize a mutually agreeable time,” the spokesperson stated, noting the wildlife branch recognizes that the licensed harvest of moose is only a small component of the branch’s moose enhancement strategy.

Moose populations have declined dramatically in the Cariboo region over the last two decades, threatening the First Nations food supply and rights to social, sustenance and ceremonial food sources, Alphonse said, noting with last year’s wildfires, including the Plateau complex of fires that burned more than 5,200 square kilometres of Chilcotin woodland, moose habitat has been impacted further.

“And now there are thousands of miles of access roads that have gone into the area because of the fires,” Alphonse said.

Results from moose surveys over the last decade indicate moose numbers have declined substantially in parts of the central Interior of the province, including the Cariboo, the wildlife branch confirmed, noting there are about 7,850 moose in the North Chilcotin and 3,700 in the South Chilcotin.

Between 1999 and 2018, the population estimate in the North Chilcotin has varied between approximately 7,850 and 13,000 and, in the South Chilcotin, between 2,900 and 5,300.

The population objective for the North and South Chilcotin is set at about 13,000 and 4,900 respectively, the spokesperson said, adding population variation is expected and moose are not considered a species at risk. The current population is below the population objective but can sustain a conservatively managed hunt.

Concern about moose harvest allocations comes as the B.C. government has confirmed wildlife allocations until 2021, including an allocation of 3,724 bull moose in the Cariboo, the TNG said in a press release.

In a letter accompanying LEH allocations, the Wildlife and Habitat Management Branch notes it is working with the Tsilhqot’in Nation in assessing the impacts of the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia on LEH hunts within and adjacent to the title lands.

Moose Information Package for 5-04 Zone a and b and 5-05 Hc 4160 to 4168 by WL Tribune on Scribd

Read more: B.C. Interior fall moose hunt under review

This story has been updated since it was first published with a response from the Wildlife and Habitat Branch.



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