Interior First Nations asks B.C. to partner on moose, caribou stewardship

The interim vice-chair of the Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG) says they have reached out to the B.C. government to partner with them to promote ‘reasonable’ stewardship of moose and caribou populations.

Although there are no allocations for cow moose in their territory west of Williams Lake, the TNG vehemently opposes this year’s antlerless moose hunt in B.C.

Xeni Gwet’in First Nation Chief Jimmy Lulua said for years now they have refrained from exercising their Aboriginal rights and traditional way of life to preserve the species.

“It’s frustrating that the government can come in and decide to undo all the years of sacrifice with poor management decisions,” Lulua said in a news release.

“My fellow Tsilhqot’in Chiefs and I have made the decision to refrain from hunting cow and calf moose with the expectation that B.C. would also do the same to ensure a sustainable future for generations to come.”

Data provided by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development shows licensed hunting of cow and calf moose have been concentrated within mountain caribou recovery areas over the past number of years.

This year the B.C. government authorized 400 cow/calf Limited Entry Hunting (LEH) tags —an increase of 57 animals. All but 78 of them fall outside the caribou recovery areas of Revelstoke and Parsnip north of Prince George.

By removing moose in such areas, predators, mainly wolves, are reduced and thus decrease predation on threatened mountain caribou, a ministry spokesperson said.

Despite the province hailing the antlerless moose hunt in caribou recovery areas as ‘good science,’ ?Esdilagh First Nation Chief Roy Stump believes otherwise.

“It remains deeply concerning that the province continues to push misconceived measures to recover caribou herds,” Stump said in a news release, arguing there is little evidence to suggest killing moose will correct the over-abundance of wolves and lead caribou recovery.

“This is a desperate attempt for the province to address caribou recovery because it is something that they have failed to do appropriately for years now,” he said.

The largest caribou herd in the Revelstoke area had stabilized after moose were reduced by approximately 80 per cent, said the ministry. However, two small herds continued to decline, and there appears to have been little if any benefit to caribou numbers in the Parsnip Valley.

Not all authorizations result in a kill, and of the 357 authorizations last year just 79 were successful.

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This year’s 400 cow/calf authorizations are a far cry from the 2,032 approved in 2011.

“We do not support the antlerless LEH and we invite the province to work with our nation to develop and implement more technically and culturally sound management measures when it comes to caribou recovery,” Stump said.

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2020 hunting scorecard for Alaska’s Interior: Nelchina caribou are elusive, Unit 13B moose are scarce

Moose season has passed. My impression is that the success rate, at least along the northern highway system, was lower than normal.

I saw a few moose racks here and there while I was traveling the Richardson Highway, but when considering the number of hunters, it wasn’t much. The word from the Nabesna area was much the same.

Caribou reports were different. The Forty-mile herd was along both the Steese and the Elliott Highways. Hunter success was good and the hunts achieved the harvest quotas in a short time.

The Nelchina hunt is working out quite differently. The herd is nowhere near the road system. Caribou are being taken here and there, but not in numbers.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game extended the early season for 10 days in an effort to increase harvest. It does not look promising. Last year the herd moved in a rush, crossing the Richardson Highway during the three-week October closure. Given the inclement weather, the same scenario could play out this season as well.

Ptarmigan and waterfowl have also been a bust along the Denali Highway and the Richardson.

A few birds were taken along the roads. Rain made for tough hunting conditions. A good dog was a necessity.

The ptarmigan chicks were small, due to a failed first hatch. The rain that was hard on the first chicks has continued and has also affected the second brood. There were birds along the Denali Highway early in the season, but those seem to have been shot out by excessive numbers of hunters.

There are still plenty of cranes migrating through Delta Junction. Some fields have standing oats, and that will hold birds awhile longer. Waterfowlers who have hunted Delta for a number of years tell me there are fewer cranes than last year. That may be the case, though I can’t verify it.

Sharp-tailed grouse and spruce grouse must have had a poor hatch also. The few I have seen are pairs and singles. The area around Sourdough is normally good for spruce chickens, but not this season. Late September is when these birds switch their diet from berries to spruce needles, and they are not so tasty by the last week of the month.

Sharptails are tough to find in the Delta Junction area. I have heard reports of a few on the edges of the Delta barley fields, though not enough to reliably hunt. A five-mile hike with a dog last week only jumped a single bird.

The game animals we normally focus on all seem to be light in the area around the Alaska Range. It could be due to last winter’s heavy snowfall and corresponding late spring. Or the growing number of hunters over the past years may be having an effect, especially on moose near the road systems.

The caribou herd is in decent shape, according to Fish and Game, they are just not very accessible thus far this season. How calving went, due to the late

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