I am a lifelong outdoorsman, resident hunter, fisherman and lover of the outdoors and the wild. I am a caretaker and conservationist, but I am also a realist that does not subscribe to the use of rhetoric or threat for personal gain. Chief Joe Alphonse uses sensationalism and bullying to get what he wants, and when he doesn’t get his way he hides behind his “traditional rights” and the umbrella of reconciliation to sway the masses. Make no mistake, his intentions are to shut all resident hunting down and in doing so is setting precedent for other First Nations to make the same claims and demands.
For those who aren’t hunters, did you know that most resident hunters only hunt a couple weeks at best during hunting season?
The entire season is typically less than three months (September to December) with many restrictions or limited-entry hunting only. Did you know that First Nations can hunt year-round, can shoot any sex, species, pregnant cows and does, calves, fawns, it doesn’t matter. They can hunt moose when the snow is five feet deep, use snowmobiles and ATVs. They are not required to harvest the entire animal. I have personally witnessed several carcasses where only the hind quarters were removed and the remainder left to rot. Why doesn’t this make the media? I am not trying to start a fight, but let’s start being honest about the issues. Resident hunters deserve a voice too. I’m tired of this being a one-sided argument.
Moose populations have declined, but not because of mismanagement of wildlife. I’ve hunted the Cariboo-Chilcotin area for over 30 years and I can tell you there are many contributors such as predation, increased road access, reduced forage due to forest broad-leaf tree spraying, ticks, loss of wildlife corridors, etc. There is a battle to fight on behalf of wildlife and it should be science-based without a political agenda.
If the ministry wants to sign a co-management agreement with First Nations, then they need to invite resident hunters to the table as well.
The 2017 wildfires that Chief Alphonse claims have affected the moose population and added additional stress were a very tiny portion of the Tsilhqot’in traditional territory and yet the chief has asked for all LEH hunting to be prohibited this year. I can assure you that moose handle wildfires just fine and moreover, moose that were outside the wildfire zone would have felt zero effects from the wildfires. In fact, First Nations have used self-started wildfires for years to create new forage/browse for ungulates.
This is yet again an example of fear-mongering and playing on the heartstrings of people that wouldn’t know better. Illegal blockades are not the answer. Other hunters have even described intimidation techniques being used or their hunting camps being vandalized.
If you asked most resident hunters their opinions you’ll likely find a willingness to forgo the LEH hunt if First Nations were treated equally and also bound not to hunt. Did you know that moose are not indigenous to the Cariboo-Chilcotin area and are not a “Traditional” food source for First Nations in B.C.? If we are truly talking about tradition, then explain why First Nations somehow reserve the right to hunt in vehicles, on ATVs, at night with lights, and use high-powered rifles…none of these are “traditional,” yet they are overlooked by the government and the media.
I respect First Nations and want nothing more than to see an equality and science-based approach to wildlife management in B.C. and in Canada. Everyone needs to come to the table on common ground and stop making demands that have zero merit in the real world and only serve to divide us further. Our province and this country deserve better. Being a steward of the land takes leadership and diplomacy, not threats and intimidation.