A First Nation in British Columbia’s central Interior has called an emergency summit to respond to the provincial government’s moose harvest allocation in the region.
“We have to take action,” said Chief Joe Alphonse, Tshilqot’in National Government (TNG) tribal chairman Wednesday. “They know our position, yet they want to go ahead keeping the harvest in the Chilcotin open and we are not in agreement with that.”
Alphonse said a lot of families, his included, have not hunted during the last few years because of a declining moose population.
“We are making these sacrifices, yet we see all these LEH-hunters coming into our territory.”
Alphonse said they are calling all chiefs, councillors and anyone else who feels they can contribute to attend the meeting, which will take place on July 10 in one of the Tsilhqot’in communities yet to be determined.
“We have Aboriginal title and rights, and if they aren’t going to acknowledge that we are going to fight back,” Alphonse said. “We have the province every year come and meet with us and then not venture from their position. We will be looking at the fact they’ve made a ruling about the moose hunt without our consent.”
Moose populations have declined dramatically in the Cariboo region over the last two decades, threatening the First Nations food supply and rights to social, sustenance and ceremonial food sources, Alphonse said, noting with last year’s wildfires, including the Plateau complex of fires that burned more than 5,200 square kilometres of Chilcotin woodland, moose habitat has been impacted further.
“And now there are thousands of miles of access roads that have gone into the area because of the fires,” Alphonse said.
Concern about moose harvest allocations comes as the B.C. government has confirmed wildlife allocations until 2021, including an allocation of 3,724 bull moose in the Cariboo, the TNG said in a press release.
In a letter accompanying LEH allocations, the Wildlife and Habitat Management Branch notes it is working with the Tsilhqot’in Nation in assessing the impacts of the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia on LEH hunts within and adjacent to the title lands.
Read more: B.C. Interior fall moose hunt under review