Responding to a request for an update the Ministry of Forests said Monday while it did not know of any active blockades at this time, “the situation is fluid and we ask forestry workers, backcountry recreationists and First Nations alike to be respectful to each other in the woods.”
The ministry has made considerable effort to ensure First Nations’ concerns with logging in the Chilcotin are addressed, the ministry said.
“This includes resource planning, which specifically addresses logging and road building to assist with moose recovery. The province manages moose populations in B.C., for social and ceremonial food uses for First Nations, through the Limited Entry Hunt (bulls only) for licensed hunters and through a quota system for non-resident guided hunts.”
All decisions are based on science and with a “conservation first” approach. The province reduced resident hunter opportunity in the area by 35 per cent for 2013, the ministry said.
Members of the Yunesit’in Band Council have declared a ban on the remaining limited entry moose hunt in the South Chilcotin, effective Friday, Oct. 4.
“The band council has prepared moose monitors at each bridge periodically that which will affect areas M.U. 5-03, 5-04, 5-05. Affected communities may follow suit,” the band said in a press release issued Thursday evening.
Moose monitors will enforce the band by turning away all ATVs and similar off-road vehicles.
First Nations hunters will be advised to take only bull moose and no more than one moose will be allowed. LEH hunters will be turned away and informational pamphlets will be handed out to local residents and others.
“There are larger issues with respect to the reasons for the moose decline, such as damage to the ecosystem,” Yunesit’in Chief Russell Myers Ross told the Tribune Advisor Thursday evening.
“However, there are immediate conservation needs,” he said. “We do not feel like the Province is taking us or this issue seriously. It will take decades for the moose to recover to the state they were a few years ago.”
First Nations are not afraid of asserting their Aboriginal right to hunt, and “sometimes this means protecting that right in ways we feel justified, Tl’esqox (Toosey) Chief Francis Laceese stated in the press release.
The Yunesit’in Council sent a letter to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Resource Operations, on March 26, 2013, requesting a chance to meet and provide recommendations, Myers Ross said.
“It’s my impression that we tried to reach out quite early on so that we would be part of the process, and we didn’t get the courtesy of a response at all,” he said. “I guess they figured it would be under the Tsilhqot’in National Government umbrella, but we felt they should be giving us the courtesy of a response by phone or anything.”
The communities have made a number of recommendations to the government for a number of years, but don’t feel they’ve had a voice, Myers Ross said.