Four Peace Region First Nations disappointed by moose hunt changes

(Department of Resources and Renewables)

In a joint released issued Monday, Chiefs of Peace Region First Nations expressed their disapproval of interim changes to hunting regulations.

The province said the decision to reduce open season dates for all non-Indigenous hunters were made “in partnership with First Nations.”

However, the Prophet River First Nation is one of four who announced Monday that they're disappointed by the decision.

Chief Valerie Askoty said “The regulatory changes are a unilateral action of the Minister of Forests that do not reflect the proposals advanced by Treaty 8 First Nations.” She said her proposals sought to protect treaty rights while balancing the interests of neighbouring resident hunters and guide outfitters.

Doig River First Nation Chief Trevor Makadahay echoed the sentiment of feeling ignored by the province.

“Right from the start we presented options to the Province for limiting impacts on local hunters. They were all rejected,” Makadahay said.

The Chiefs of Halfway River First Nations and West Moberly First Nations also voiced their concerns. During consultation, they asked the province to shield local hunters from new guidelines.

In an interview with CJDC back in March, Saulteau First Nation Chief Justin Napoleon also suggested priority be given to local hunters.

The Northeast is the only remaining region with an open season for moose. However, the statement says that means “hunters from other areas flood the north each year.”

West Moberly First Nations Chief Roland Willson said “This means a huge decline in our members’ ability to successfully harvest moose in a meaningful and culturally appropriate way.” He would have preferred the province implement a limited entry hunt.

Yet, Halfway River First Nations is concerned about the open season remaining in their area. Chief Darlene Hunter said moose populations are in decline in some of Halfway’s important areas.

“Halfway is actively engaged in wildlife management and restoration of our territory. We want to work together to ensure greater wildlife abundance for all,” Hunter said.

The changes to the moose hunt have been contentious from the provinces initial proposal. Blueberry River First Nation Chief Judy Desjarlais even facing death threats in March.

The final decision to change the moose hunt for one year has left Askoty hoping the province will listen to First Nations in the future.

“If the true spirit and intent of Treaty 8 is upheld then all Treaty people, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous will benefit,” Askoty said.