The Iskut Band and Tahltan Band continue to govern Tahltan interests with respect to the Indian Act in the communities of Iskut, Dease Lake, and Telegraph Creek, says the Tahltan Central Government (TCG). (TCG photo)

The Iskut Band and Tahltan Band continue to govern Tahltan interests with respect to the Indian Act in the communities of Iskut, Dease Lake, and Telegraph Creek, says the Tahltan Central Government (TCG). (TCG photo)

Bears and wolves to be hunted by Tahltan in B.C’s northwest

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.

Read More: B.C. wolf kill continuing into 2021 to protect caribou herds

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.

In a written statement the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development said wildlife populations naturally fluctuate and there are many factors that can affect distribution and abundance.

“Generally, wildlife populations in the Northwest are stable; however, there are areas where declines of some species are observed or documented,” said ministry spokesperson Tyler Hooper.

Hooper did not elaborate on which species have experienced declines but said the B.C. Government has been working collaboratively with the Tahtlan Nation since 2017 to improve wildlife populations and management.

Under the new Tahltan 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.”

In 2018, the province approved a series of moose hunting regulation changes, collaboratively developed with Tahltan, to reduce conflicts among people and impacts to wildlife in areas with relatively easy access that tend to concentrate activities, noted Hooper.

That year, the province also announced $3 million to funding to the Tahltan and neighbouring Kaska and Taku River Tlingit First Nations to work together on wildlife stewardship and management priorities, including population assessments and monitoring activities that can inform management priorities.

Through a portion of the funding, B.C. and the Tahltan Nation were able to co-design and deliver several important projects including the development of the Tahltan guardian program, wildlife health assessments, inventory updates and options for a wildlife co-management.

“It is too early to determine whether these actions are successful and the Province of B.C. continues to collaboratively monitor the hunting regulation changes made in 2018 to see if the objectives are being met,” Hooper said.

“The province recognizes, respects and supports the rights of the Tahltan people to exercise and practice cultural wildlife management practices.”

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.

BC Wildlife Federation director of fish and wildlife restoration Jesse Zeman said there is growing frustration with declining wildlife values across British Columbia.

“What you’re seeing now is frustration as a result of the lack of the Province meaningfully funding and applying science as it [relates] to fish and wildlife management,” he said.

“I expect you’ll [see] more and more of this. We saw the Tsilhqot’in Nation say they were going to put together their own caribou recovery plan as well, and a lot of this comes back to this systemic issue around under-funding and a lack of prioritization of fish and wildlife values in the province.”

Read More: Tahltan Nation stands behind road access closures to keep hunters, non-locals out


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
rebecca.dyok@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

First NationsHunting and Fishing

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Traffic controllers Hayley Stevens (left) and Hector Blackwater (right) have been recognized by drivers for their friendly waves, smiles and dance moves while working south of Terrace. (Ben Bogstie/Terrace Standard)
Skeena Voices | Positivity is just part of being a flagger

Hector Blackwater and Hayley Stevens have been drawing attention on social media

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross has been named critic for Environment and Climate Change Strategy for the BC Liberals. (Peter Versteege photo)
Skeena MLA Ellis Ross named critic for Environment and Climate Change Strategy

Previously, Ross was the critic for LNG, Resource Opportunities, and Responsible Development

Coast Mountains School District 82 is dealing with a shortage of bus drivers. (Natalia Balcerzak/Terrace Standard)
CMSD82 coping with bus driver shortage in Terrace area

LNG Project, COVID-19 contributing to driver shortage

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. researchers launch study to test kids, young adults for COVID-19 antibodies

Kids and youth can often be asymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus

Paramedics register patients at a drive through, pop-up COVID-19 test centre outside the Canadian Tire Centre, home of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, in Ottawa, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians aren’t currently worried that people in other countries might get a COVID-19 vaccine first. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Canadians not worried other countries will get COVID-19 vaccine first: poll

Forty-one per cent of respondents say they want the vaccine to be mandatory for all Canadians

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (PIxabay.com)
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Co-author of residential schools book condemns controversial Abbotsford class assignment

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

Most Read