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B.C., Tahltan Nation step up wildlife patrols after ‘contentious’ hunting season

Both governments working together on wildlife stewardship and furthering their commitments to reconciliation
British Columbia Premier John Horgan, centre, and Minister of Children and Family Development Katrine Conroy, left, listen as Minister of State for Child Care Katrina Chen speaks during an announcement about child care, at a daycare in Coquitlam, B.C., Wednesday, March 28, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

There will be more provincial conservation officers and Tahltan guardians patrolling the nation’s territory in northwestern British Columbia this hunting season.

The province and the Tahltan Central Government say in a joint statement they’re working together on wildlife stewardship and furthering their commitments to reconciliation.

They say the hunting season last year was “contentious” and the joint efforts are aimed at supporting the nation’s work to improve wildlife populations, food security and community safety, while ensuring access for licensed hunters.

They say both governments hope a unified approach that’s respectful of Tahltan cultural practices will support a better experience for all hunters, both visitors and Tahltan.

Asked about last year’s hunting season, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations said the Tahltan Nation was concerned that visitors to the territory were putting community safety at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ministry says the hunting season saw acts of vandalism and “heated exchanges” between Tahltan guardians and some visitors to the territory.

In a 2020 fish and wildlife report by the Tahltan Central Government, wildlife director Lance Nagwan says barriers set up at major highway access points in order to deter the expected influx of hunters during the pandemic led to animosity.

“The animosity created by this decision was evident over the field season as we continued to push back non-Tahltan hunters who felt it is their right to harvest,” he wrote.

“A few people felt it was time to take matters into their own hands, which was evident with the cutting and theft of our COVID-19 signs and gates, and vandalism of parked vehicles.”

- The Canadian Press