The moose cow and calf harvest will be happening as planned in the Kootenay and Omineca regions, despite the heavy local opposition to the harvest, confirmed the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resources Operations (FLNRO).
A ministry spokesperson confirmed that the harvest would take place as the authorizations are going out only in places where the moose population is stable or rising.
“The recovery of mountain caribou is a top priority for this government, and the slight increase to the limited entry hunt (LEH) authorizations of cow/calf moose plays a small but important role in protecting this iconic species from extinction,” said the spokesperson.
This year, the government has issued 400 LEH authorizations as opposed to 357 last year.
MLA John Rustad raised the issue of the cow calf hunt during a recent estimates discussion headed by Minister Doug Donaldson on August 10.
“I expressed the disappointment and asked the minister to reconsider and cancel the cow calf hunt; he refused. He claimed that the science was sound and he seemed to think that there were only two places in the province where this hunt would happen. That’s inaccurate; there is cow calf hunt in many other areas of the province as well,” said Rustad which is in line with the numbers provided by the ministry with 322 authorizations given for the harvest within the recovery areas i.e. Parsnip and Revelstoke while 78 LEH authorizations given for regions outside the caribou recovery areas.
The Village of Burns Lake, which is in strong opposition of the harvest with Councillor Charlie Rensby taking charge on the issue, plans to write a letter to the Premier, with support from both, the indigenous as well as non indigenous community in and around the Lakes District.
“We are the stewards of the land and our opinions need to count a lot more than those from the lower mainland. Every elected leader in the community would sign a letter to go the Premier, and it is somewhat historical that both indigenous and non indigenous people are coming together on this,” said Rensby during an Aug.11 council meeting.
Rensby also said that he has been receiving a lot of support as the process leading up to the decision for harvest has been flawed with lack of proper consultation of the locals who actually know the land.
“We know our personal values and we know our landscape. The community as a whole needs to stand together and say enough is enough,” he said.
Cheslatta Carrier Nation’s Chief, Corrina Leween has been a long time ally of the village on the issue of moose cow and calf harvest.
“We are not in favor of [the harvest] and we will continue to be steadfast on that because we are the people on the land and we know when the moose population is low or not. It is apparent to us that live in the area that the moose population has reduced drastically and a cow calf cull is not a solution to the Caribou problem,” she said.
She also pointed out that predator management was more urgent especially here “as the concentration of wolves in the area and the Tweedsmuir is six times that of the provincial average.” Leween is now hoping to get all the chiefs of the member nations together to sign a letter with the village to go to the premier. And while she has reached out to all the neighboring First Nations, she is still waiting to hear back from them on their stand over the issue.
In the meantime, Rustad is hoping that the hunters with LEH would take matters in their own hands.
“What we would like to see is that the hunters who have the LEH voluntarily tear it up and not hunt. If the ministry wont take action, perhaps it is an opportunity for hunters to show that it is the right thing to do,” he said, adding that he planned to continue to advocate for the issue and push it forward through social media.