As the trapping season fast approaches, longtime Chilcotin trapper Fritz Dieck said he is caught in the middle of a bureaucratic nightmare.
Dieck, a trapper and 30-year neighbour to the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation, said he may be unable to use a 200-square kilometre portion of his 1,400-square-kilometre trapline and a legal trapper’s cabin.
That’s because that portion falls within the new Tsilhqot’in rights and title area.
The worst part, the 75-year-old said, is the situation has come about without any official government notice, guidance or compensation.
“This is a crazy situation,” a frustrated Dieck said. “It’s not their fault (Xeni Gwet’in). The problem is the federal government. They gave away something they don’t own.
“I want compensation. There should not be expropriation without compensation.”
A Ministry of Forests spokesperson said Cariboo Region Manager Rodger Stewart has met with Dieck on multiple occasions and did not tell Mr. Dieck that he cannot use 200 sq. km. of his trapline.
“Mr. Dieck has been informed by letter that the extent of Mr. Dieck’s trapline did not change as a result of the court declaration of Aboriginal title for the Tsilhqot’in Nation,” spokesperson Greig Bethel said, adding he also holds a Park Use Permit to carry out trapping activities within Ts’il?os Park.
However, the Tsilhqot’in sent out a reminder to the public Tuesday saying that all hunting remains closed on Tsilhqot’in Title Lands for all species and access through Tsilhqot’in Title Lands for hunting purposes also remains closed.
When contacted by the Tribune, Xeni Gwet’in Chief Roger William said they will have to look at Dieck’s situation because essentially trapping is hunting.
“It’s a grey area, but we’ve worked with ranchers and tourism operators in title land,” William said, as he promised to look into Dieck’s plight.
“We do have rangers going out this week to provide information and welcome people to the title area.”
They will be situated at the Henry’s Crossing and Taseko bridges and in between.
Dieck said he has a very good relationship with area First Nations and has been accepted ever since he founded the Native Trapper’s School of B.C. Canada Ltd. in 1986 in the Chilcotin on Tuzcha Lake.
His trapline is nestled in a remote wilderness region between Chilko and Taseko Lakes and runs about 100 km north and south and on average 14 km in width, with about 17 different species available for trapping including lynx, bobcat, fisher, otter and beaver.
The area in question is in the most northerly portion of his trapline where Elkin Creek runs through it.
Dieck feels the value of the right to trap, the cabin and the maintained wilderness trail is worth approximately $95,000 and has sent a bill to the government, with no meaningful response.
He first approached the Minister of Aboriginal Relations and since then has been passed on to two other ministers, and finally to the Ministry of Justice.
“I don’t want to create problems. I have to respect the fact the First Nations own everything in their title land area,” he said.