Four First Nations in B.C.’s central Interior are the latest to publicly express their opposition to this year’s increased antlerless moose hunt.
The Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw (NStQ) which includes the communities of Xat’sull Cmetem’ (Soda Creek/Deep Creek), Stswecem’c Xgat’tem (Canoe Creek/Dog Creek), T’exelc (Williams Lake) and Tsq’escen’ (Canim Lake) said in a media release issued Aug. 24 they do not support the increase in tags.
“Some of our communities have made the difficult decision to restrict our own citizen’s rights to hunt by placing bans on the cow moose hunt and any additions to the antlerless moose (LEH) will put us in conflict and make it more difficult to uphold our own policies,”said Stswecem’c Xgat’tem Chief Patrick Harry, noting the increase goes against their Secwepemc values and ongoing efforts of their nations.
The B.C. Government has increased limited entry hunt (LEH) authorizations of cow/calf moose by 43 animals this year in a strategic attempt to reduce predators, mainly wolves, in mountain caribou recovery areas.
“The plan is based on good science; stabilizing rising moose populations means less wolves, which is better for the caribou,” said a spokesperson with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development said in a previous statement to Black Press Media.
“The science on which this plan is based has not changed since it was introduced prior to this government. What has changed is that the vast majority of the cow/calf moose hunts are now happening in the caribou recovery zones.”
Like the Esk’etemc First Nation south of Williams Lake, the NStQ — who have been actively involved in moose management projects in the region for many years— said they were shocked by the lack of consultation involved in the decision-making process.
“Previous responses from the province such as ‘we are monitoring the population numbers’ are no longer acceptable,” said Northern Shuswap Tribal Council natural resources manager, Kate Hewitt.
“The people of the NStQ expect an explanation as to why the moose tags are increasing when the NStQ have continuously reported that less than half of our community members are able to fulfill their subsistence and traditional needs based on the hunter harvest surveys regularly completed within our unceded territory.”
Annual aerial moose surveys which the NStQ said they have participated in found moose population numbers in the Cariboo region having dropped from 8,075 to 6,300 between 1999 and 2019 —- a 22 percent decrease within a 20-year span.
Of the 400 cow/calf LEH authorizations approved, 322 are within caribou recovery areas including Revelstoke and Parsnip —north of Prince George.