Tahltan Nation introduces predator management policy
With a territory spanning nearly 11 per cent of northwest B.C. it might not come as a surprise predators outnumber humans.
“There’s a lot of belief that dogs are going missing from wolves and bears, and there has been situations where wolves and bears have actually gone into the communities very close to children playing,” said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government (TCG).
As concerns of safety mount, Day said Tahltans and other locals have witnessed a steady decline in ungulates and a growing imbalance of wildlife populations.
Just this year, he estimates there have been more than 20 problematic black bears and a handful of grizzly bears that had to be destroyed by community members.
“We’ve been experiencing increasing dwindling of the ungulates —specifically moose and caribou—and having more and more conflicts with wolves and bears, so it’s getting scary.”
On Tuesday, Sept. 15 TCG announced a Tahltan predator management policy which encourages members to exercise their constitutionally-protected Aboriginal hunting rights to harvest predatory species including black bears, grizzly bears and wolves.
Day said attempts to work collaboratively with the B.C. government to establish a science-based and holistic co-management framework that respects the jurisdiction and knowledge of the Tahltan Nation have failed.
“They’ve certainly made efforts to work more closely with us on wildlife initiatives but it doesn’t go nearly far enough in order to address wildlife in Tahltan Territory,” he said.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development could not be reached for immediate comment.
Through the policy, Tahltan members who harvest predatory species will be required to utilize each species to the extent possible for cultural purposes such as food, clothing, regalia, tools, medicine and/or ceremony.
The Tahltan policy will be implemented by TCG’s wildlife department that will also record harvest numbers from the Tahltan people.
“We don’t want to get to a place where we have our caribou in pens and we’re treating them like livestock,” Day said.
“We need to take a stance now before things get to a crisis situation.”
A non-essential travel ban to Tahltan territory remains in place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last month, the TCG drew the ire of non-Indigenous hunters by blocking hunter access throughout the Tahltan territory, preventing hunters with government-issued tags from harvesting animals.
At that time, Day said the blockades were needed due to critically limited medical services and infrastructure.