The Liard First Nation (LFN) says it’s seeing early results from its declared hunting ban in parts of its traditional territory.
Earlier this month, the First Nation issued the ban over concerns about caribou and moose populations. Non-Kaska hunters were adding to the pressure on wildlife populations, the First Nation said.
LFN Chief Stephen Charlie said it appears non-Kaska hunters are observing the ban.
“We’ve actually seen a decrease in hunting so far in our traditional territory,” he said. “So maybe the word is getting out that being respectful of the Kaska traditional territory, the hunting rights of the Kaska and the privileges of resident harvesters.”
LFN has declared Frances Lake and Frances River, the Rancheria area, and the Nahanni Range Road on the Liard River off limits to non-Kaska hunters.
The real test comes in September, Charlie said.
“That’s when the moose start coming down from the mountains and then we start seeing an influx of harvesters from all over western Canada into the region,” he said.
Nils Clarke, Yukon’s environment minister, has said that without a signed final agreement, the First Nation cannot legally stop anyone from hunting in its traditional territory. But Charlie said Clarke supports Liard’s efforts and that authority “is coming.”
In the meantime, Charlie said the First Nation has three land guardians patrolling traditional territory, informing hunters of which areas are out of bounds.
“We cannot stop the activities right now, but we’re going to be documenting,” he said.
“And then this is going to form a history for us [of] individuals that are working with us and and individuals that are not abiding by our hunting bounds and being respectful.”