The Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG) will be attempting to ban Limited Entry Hunt (LEH) licenses for moose hunting in its territory this fall.
TNG tribal chair Chief Joe Alphonse said during an emergency meeting held Tuesday at Tl’esqox (Riske Creek), he received full endorsement from leadership to pursue a legal challenge against the LEH allocations for 2018.
“We just had a big nation meeting and we’ve been given the green light to begin another legal challenge against the province,” he told the Tribune Wednesday. “This time we are going to be challenging their decision-making process.”
Leadership at the meeting also agreed by consensus to enact an emergency Tsilhqot’in law to protect moose populations by banning LEH in the territory, effectively restricting all non-First Nations from hunting moose.
A draft law was reviewed and approved for enactment in the near future.
Alphonse said four years ago the Tsilhqot’in began arguing with the province, and said with the 2017 wildfires the situation was made even more dire because so many more areas have been opened up by the fires and the fireguards that were put in.
“They finally cancelled the moose hunting last year, when I threatened road blocks, but this year they are going ahead,” Alphonse said. “There’s going to be a show-down over moose this year. We will look for ways that are non-violent to protect our moose, but we have to do it. There has been no study on the impact of a big fire on moose herds anywhere.”
Alphonse said there will be a few more meetings to discuss it, noting 80 per cent of the council members from across the nation attend the meeting on Tuesday as well as many elders and community members.
“It was a full house. People take it that seriously. We’ve been arguing for four years with government and it hasn’t worked so we have to change our tactic. We are not interested in doing the same thing over and over again when we are not getting the results we want.”
A spokesperson with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations responded Thursday in an e-mail the ministry will continue to work with the TNG on collaborative wildlife management in the region, guided by the principles of the United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous People, and agreements previously reached with the TNG such as the Nenqay Deni Accord.
“We’re not going to speculate on actions the TNG may be planning to take,” a spokesperson noted.
In June, the ministry said there would be fewer tags for the region to address bull-to-cow ratio concerns and to help increase moose populations.
New 2018/19 licensed harvest for residents is 246 moose, down from 325 moose in 2017. Guide quota has been reduced from 145 in 2017 to 128 in 2018.
Results from moose surveys over the last decade indicate moose numbers have declined substantially in parts of the central Interior of the province, including the Cariboo, a spokesperson for the ministry told the Tribune in June.
“There are about 7,850 moose in the North Chilcotin and 3,700 in the South Chilcotin. Between 1999 and 2018, the population estimate in the North Chilcotin has varied between approximately 7,850 and 13,000 and, in the South Chilcotin, between 2,900 and 5,300. The population objective for the North and South Chilcotin is set at about 13,000 and 4,900 respectively.”
Population variation is expected and moose are not considered a species at risk, the ministry noted, adding the current population is below the population objective but can sustain a conservatively managed hunt.