The president of the Williams Lake Sportsmen’s Association says his organization would support a ban on moose hunting in the Cariboo Chilcotin if it was for everyone.
“I’ve talked to a lot of my members and they are saying, ‘let’s close the moose hunt completely for everybody,” Lorne Barron told the Tribune. “It’s a resource we will lose completely forever in the Cariboo Chilcotin. Moose have not historically been largely in the Chilcotin and it’s quite easy for them to disappear completely.”
Barron was responding to an announcement by the Tsilhqot’in National Government that it plans to enact a law banning the LEH moose hunt in the Chilcotin to all non-First Nations hunters.
Speaking for the TNG, tribal chair chief Joe Alphonse said two weeks ago there hasn’t been a proper study done on moose and the impact on them from the wildfires.
“We can understand their frustration,” Barron said. “There is a serious moose decline in the entire Cariboo region, not just the Chilcotin, and there has not been an adequate study.”
Barron does not believe the 2017 wildfires had “a lot of” effect on the moose.
“I don’t imagine that many moose succumbed to smoke inhalation. They aren’t like cattle, they can go over fences.”
What’s changed, he added, is that visibility is better because of burned areas and more fireguards.
“The moose do have more food sources, particularly in the winter, and they will this coming winter, so it’s kind of a mixed situation.”
It’s also known that ticks have impacted moose, he said, noting if the spring arrives early the ticks have a better chance at surviving. And there are more predators.
With the combination of the fires, ticks and predators, the only thing that can be done is to change the hunting pressure, he said.
In the last two years Barron has chosen not to put in for the LEH moose draw because of the decline in numbers of moose.
“The last two moose hunts I went on I saw no moose at all.”
He applauded ?Esdilagh First Nation for making the decision to ban moose hunting for its members with help from the Conservation Officer Service and said if the TNG would declare cow moose hunting off limit to their members it would make a big difference.
First Nations can harvest throughout the year and can harvest bull, cows and calf moose, he added.
“We have no idea how many moose are being harvested by First Nations. We have no idea how many are bulls and how many are cows. Management of that resource is probably almost impossible and I can see the ministry saying, ‘why should we bother because we cannot control anything.’”
Barron said if the TNG rangers could enforce banning the cow moose hunt, with the help of the Conservation Officer Service, it could make a lot gains with the moose populations.
“If they were going to do that I think a lot of our members and resident hunters would be a little more appreciative of cuts to quota.”
The harvesting of bull moose has an insignificant impact, he added.
“Think of how many bulls a rancher needs to service his thousand head of cows. As long as there are a few bulls they will get the job done.”
Barron said when the ministry of forests establishes the LEH quota, the numbers are based on the fact they expect only a third of the moose will actually be harvested.
“I think that’s pretty optimistic to harvest a third of them.”
There are presently about 700 members in the sportsmen’s association and Barron has been president for one year.
“Moose are not hunted as a trophy hunt,” he added. “The moose in this area are not really big, but for me I love the experience of going out hunting and we do love the meat.”
Originally from Alberta, Barron moved to Williams Lake in 1976.
He works as a paramedic with Emergency Health Services B.C.