The Tsilhqot’in community of ?Esdilagh has taken matters into their own hands declaring a ban on moose harvest in their traditional territory following a community meeting held earlier this month.
“The issue at hand there came up on the agenda and the Elders and people of ?Esdilagh had instructed the Chief and Council that we need to take further action rather than banning certain people from hunting, we need to ban everybody including ourselves,” explains band manager, Chad Stump.
The First Nation said in a media release Monday that the Ministry of Forests had closed Zones A and C of Management Unit (MU) 5-13 on October 6, but however, left Zone B of MU 5-13 and MU 5-14 open to limited entry hunts for moose.
“Somebody needs to step forward in the First Nations community here,” says Stump.
“?Esdilagh was very impacted by the fires. It overtook much of the ?Esdilagh traditional territory and a lot of our neighboring nation’s territory and we took a very vital hit in the heart of our traditional lands here. It’s going to be a long time coming before we see moose populations like they were before.”
?Esdilagh will commence discussions with Conservation Officers to develop a collaborative approach to help ensure the public respects ?Esdilagh’s decision.
“As a community who relies on moose as the main staple for sustenance this inaction by the Province is very alarming to us. Allowing a moose hunt after the wildfires could decimate the entire moose population in our territory,” stated Chief Roy Stump in a media release. “We cannot afford to lose anything else and we are alarmed that the Province of BC has failed to take action.”
“I am particularly proud of my community members for making a decision that exercises our jurisdiction and for demonstrating how we take responsibility to preserve and protect our wildlife for future generations. We are willing to forego our Aboriginal rights to hunt moose and we expect the Province to rescind the remaining 2017 Limited Entry Hunt authorizations for conservation purposes. We also expect BC to commit substantial resources to work with us to protect and conserve the moose population.”
(Editor’s Note: Listen to ?Esdilagh First Nation Band Manager, Chad Stump with the author of this report in the audio file below)