A Williams Lake rally protesting the antlerless moose hunt in B.C. garnered participation from First Nations chiefs and councillors, guide outfitters, ranchers, local politicians and members of the public.
Held in the parking lot of the Tourism Discovery Centre, on Wednesday, Sept. 23, where Cow Moose Sign Project creator Dan Simmons and his wife Vivian have been silently protesting nearby for several weeks, the event attracted around 49 people.
Chief Willie Sellars welcomed everyone to Williams Lake First Nation and Secwepemc traditional territory.
“We support wholeheartedly and fully at the Williams Lake First Nation and always thank Dan Simmons and his wife Vivian for what they are doing to save the moose populations for future generations,” Sellars said, noting politicians need to be held to task to protect the moose.
Esk’etemc Chief Fred Robbins sang a traditional grizzly bear song and then thanked Dan and Vivian for their efforts.
“It’s part of our culture and our traditions. It’s our history of our ancestors for the past 10 generations to survive off the land and live off the land,” Robbins said as he presented them with a drum that featured a moose design. “I want to thank you for all that you do to support First Nations.”
With the cow moose and calf hunt poised to open in October, Dan said he is hopeful they can still halt it.
“We need to work together, and this rally shows us doing just that. The cow and calf moose are not the problem. I’ve never in my life seen a moose eat a caribou,” he said.
Jayde Duranleau, McLeod Lake Indian Band youth councillor and youth rep for the B.C. Assembly of First Nations, said she has been working on the issue for about four years.
“Recently, because of COVID, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the backwoods, and there is an overabundance of bears and wolves, and I think they [the Province] can take a different approach to protect antlerless moose,” she said. “This cow and calf cull that’s coming up is very wrong.”
Luke Doxtator, stewardship manager for the Tsilqhot’in National Government (TNG), said it is fortunate there are no LEH allocations for cow moose in Tsilhqot’in territory.
Jenny Philbrick, executive director for the TNG, said the nation and six communities support protection of the cow and calf moose.
Former Nechako Lakes Liberal MLA John Rustad said the issues is the predators, not cow and calf moose.
“We have to start thinking about how to recover our moose populations,” Rustad said. “We need to have policies come forward for recovery.”
Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association representative Dave Brace said ranchers are already losing lots of cattle to predators, noting all ungulates and ranchers are hurting in the province for lack of wildlife management as a whole.
Stewart Fraser, Cariboo Chilcotin Guide Outfitters Association president, said his members have a vested interest in healthy wildlife populations.
“Just recently, a member of our guide outfitters in the Cariboo lost their moose quota entirely,” Fraser said.
Fraser said the governing council appointed by the ministry of forests in August to oversee a strategy for the conservation and stewardship of B.C. wildlife has some good membership but is lacking any members from the hunting community or the guide outfitters associations.
“We need to be put on this council,” Fraser said.
BC Liberals candidate Lorne Doerkson encouraged everyone to continue lobbying to get the hunt stopped and said the idea to starve out wolves by killing cow moose is not going to work.
“The fact is they are going to eat cattle,” he added.
Outgoing Cariboo-Chilcotin Liberal MLA Donna Barnett emceed the event and encouraged everyone to help with the fight and to continue to support Dan and Vivian’s efforts.
“Hunting, guide outfitting, wildlife is all a part of the Cariboo-Chilcotin and a great part of tourism,” Barnett said. “When you think of the dollars and cents that guide outfitters bring into this region, it’s gone right now.”