Tahltan hunting blockade continues as meeting with Province approaches

Telegraph Creek, BC — Tahltan Elders and Tahltan Band Chief Terri Brown maintain their roadblock on Highway 51 between Dease Lake and Telegraph Creek, despite planned meetings with representatives from the provincial government this week.

The protesters are trying to raise awareness regarding moose hunting in their territory. While the provincial government proposes moose populations are not in danger, the Tahltan are concerned these claims are based on outdated and unreliable data. They are concerned that in reality, moose populations may not be sustainable at the rates that they are being hunted and that there is an absence of reliable data on moose population estimates in their territory. There are concerns about overhunting of other species as well.

Tahltan Central Council (TCC) President Chad Day shares the concerns presented by Chief Brown and the Elders at the blockade saying, “The Tahltan Nation must ensure the sustainability of moose populations and other species we harvest to ensure our people can continue to hunt and feed our families into the future.”

The Province reports they have estimates of moose hunters and the number of moose in the area, but until 2010 such data relied surveys from various hunters in the area.  While each hunter was required to fill out harvest surveys and submit them, this was not enforced and did not produce reliable information.

Since 2010, the Tahltan and the BC government have agreed to compulsory inspections. Such inspections require hunters to have each moose inspected and a location for the harvest recorded.  This means actual harvest prior to 2010 is likely higher than documented due to the less reliable hunter survey system that was previously in place.

The Tahltan are requesting that the Province conduct new studies to better understand the current moose population. The last stratified random block study, the most accurate method to assess the population, was completed twelve to fourteen years ago. The last population estimate for the Klappan area was conducted in 2001 and is now outdated. The Province has conducted some transect flights several years ago, but this method produced skewed results that did not generate a population estimate that meets provincial standards.

Already, moose populations in the Nass Valley and Bulkley Lakes District are shown to be in decline. As a result, the Tahltan are concerned an increasing number of hunters will travel further north, putting even greater pressure on moose populations in their territory during the three-month open hunting season.

“Our culture and traditions are so closely entwined with the natural resources around us,” said Chief Brown. “It is imperative that we work with the BC government to tighten regulations and shorten the hunting season.”

“The position of the Tahltan Nation has been to have regular population surveys, community based monitoring, and increased enforcement for more appropriate wildlife management. When that is not possible, a precautionary approach is needed — that means using tools like reduced hunting seasons or Limited Entry Hunting draws until moose population information is available to make informed decisions,” says TCC President Chad Day. “We are meeting with government representatives from the Province in our territory to discuss these issues with our people and to work together to ensure we maintain a sustainable moose population in the Tahltan Nation.”