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