The B.C. Wildlife Federation is calling on the provincial government to step up and enforce the law in light of the limited-entry moose hunting ban announced by First Nation bands in the province’s Interior last week.
“I was disappointed because we share a common interests with First Nations and are working with them,” BCWF president Harvey Andrusak told the Tribune Monday from his office in Nelson. “If it’s not a conservation concern then our members cannot accept the idea that one component of the hunter population should be excluded from hunting. It doesn’t make sense and it’s not appropriate.”
Last week the Tŝilhqot’in Nation and Southern Dãkelh Nation Alliance announced the ban for an area that encompasses from Vanderhoof and Prince George in the north to Valemount in the east, just east of Bella Coola in the west and areas southwest of Williams Lake near Tl’esqox (Riske Creek), Tl’etinqox (Anaham), Tsideldel (Redstone) and Xeni Gwet’in (Nemiah Valley).
They cited the wildfires as having an impact on moose, compounding a decade-long population decline.
Andrusak said the BC Wildlife Federation has no issue with legitimate requirements for First Nations right to food, social and ceremonial (FSC) use of wildlife.
“We certainly respect the FSC, that’s certainly a right of First Nations and we understand that, but once it’s determined that there isn’t a conservation concern and there isn’t any concern with the FSC, then hunters and non-resident hunters should be permitted to continue to hunt.”
Last Thursday the provincial government responded to the ban by noting that the science indicates no measurable impact on wildlife (moose) due to the 2017 fires.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development said it did not plan on expanding closure of the LEH.
Andrusak said the BCWF supports the government.
“We make our commentary based on science and we have checked with the ministry, and their surveys of the 2017 fires, show they had very little impact on wildlife,” he said.
There is a decline in numbers of moose, Andrusak agreed and said BCWF works with First Nation communities already on efforts to “grow more moose.”
“That’s the solution to the current problem,” he added. “There’s an apparent scarcity of moose, although the data doesn’t clearly state that, but what we want to do is work with First Nations in advocating prescribed burns which will greatly improve wildlife. We have technical people that can help in putting together proposals for funding to see prescribed burns take place in the Interior and in the Northern part of the province near Fort St. John and Dease Lake.”
He said instead of arguing over the size of the pie, the pie needs to be made larger by growing more wildlife through prescribed burns, and in some instances thinning of the forests.
“There are solutions and we are more than prepared and are already involved with First Nations in doing just that.”
The BC Wildlife Federation is British Columbia’s largest and oldest conservation organization with 40,000 members.
So far there haven’t been any altercations with hunters, however, Andrusak said he knows there have been threats of blockades and he has written to Premier John Horgan.