A week after announcing its plans to ban the limited entry moose hunt in the south Chilcotin, Yunesit’in (Stone) First Nation confirmed there will be monitors on the ground turning away moose hunters and ATVs.
“The monitors will be placed spontaneously on either of the Farwell Canyon or Chilko bridges, but specifically on weekends,” Yunesit’in Chief Russell Myers Ross said Thursday.
“The Yunesit’in Council expects it to be peaceful and largely educational; it is meant to fill the void of non-regulated hunting that the province has endorsed by undermining conservation.”
Moose monitors on the ground will be carrying out an educational campaign to explain the rationale, Myers Ross added.
Weighing in Tl’etinqox-t’in (Anaham) Chief Joe Alphonse said he doesn’t have a problem with the action, but it’s the timing that is a concern.
“You should do it in a way that’s going to be respectful of people’s time and consideration,” Alphonse said.
“There are hunters out there who have put a lot of time into planning and their own personal resources.”
However, Alphonse said the south Chilcotin area has been devastated on many fronts. Logging has impacted wildlife.
“It was a mule deer hunting area for Tsilhqot’in people for many years long before European interests on the land out there. I would hate to predict how many kilometres of logging roads exist there.”
Management areas 5-03, 5-04 and 5-05 are not in his caretaker area and he doesn’t have a say, but if it was Anaham’s area he said he guaranteed he would have shut everything down a long time ago.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations said Wednesday the Limited Entry Moose Hunt has not been cancelled.
In response to the threat of blockades, the ministry has issued an alert on its Wildlife Management page:
“The ministry is making every effort to resolve the immediate issue of possible blockades by some First Nations in Management Units 5-03, 5-04 and 5-05.
Although we do 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 alert said.
Sgt. Mike Hacker of the Alexis RCMP detachment said Thursday there hasn’t been any communication between his office and the Yunesit’in band office, other than notice the band members are going to be starting to roll out moose monitors.
“My understanding is they are in the planning processes for that particular issue,” Hacker said. “That may happen fairly soon or otherwise, I don’t know yet.”
Yunesit’in also announced the band is withdrawing from the Tsilhqot’in Framework Agreement.
The TFA is a government-to-government agreement between First Nations groups and the province, originally signed in 2009, and extended into 2013.
“The Yunesit’in Council addressed the community in a meeting to reflect on the latest actions that had members stop logging,” Myers Ross noted in a press release.
“The TFA, as a consultation mechanism, simply did not work for our community,” he said. “Our community had much higher expectations. We found that there were too many problems from the actual referral process, the timelines, the community engagement, the lack of digestible information, and the method of decision-making. There were attempts to change aspects of it internally, however, to many members, it has lost legitimacy and it is important to recognize this and turn away from this path.”
Band Councillor Gabe Pukacz said the band always knew it would have to review the TFA with the community.
“As council, we signed the TFA reluctantly early this year to see if more change could come about,” Pukacz said. “Our members tell us the concerns of the water, wildlife and plants, but it seems the process runs as status quo with only minor changes.
“Our community has to find a path that protects the land and a process that reflects our vision.”
Weighing in on the band’s decision Alphonse said the band cannot just announce it is not a part of the TFA. “They are locked in for this year. At the end of the TFA until we sign another agreement.”
A better statement would have been that they aren’t prepared to sign another TFA, he suggested.