The Tahltan Nation in northern B.C. is urging its citizens to hunt more bears and wolves, saying doing so will help increase the populations of other species that First Nations rely on.
In a news release on Tuesday, the Tahltan Central Government (TCG) says provincial wildlife counts show “dwindling” numbers of prey species such as caribou, moose and salmon in the area, and a “growing imbalance of wildlife populations.”
It says a newly-adopted TCG policy is meant to fix that.
“[The Tahltan Predator Management Policy] encourages and incentivizes Tahltan members to exercise their constitutionally-protected Aboriginal hunting rights to harvest predatory species, including black bears, grizzly bears, and wolves,” the release says.
The First Nation also says the “proliferating” predatory species are posing a threat to people, with increased conflict between community members and wildlife.
“After years of failed attempts to work collaboratively with the province to establish a science-based and holistic co-management framework that respects the jurisdiction and knowledge of the Tahltan Nation, we are taking matters into our own hands,” says TCG President Chad Norman Day in a statement.
“We must protect our communities, hunting rights and culture for future generations.”
The First Nation says its new policy will require citizens to harvest animals in compliance with Tahltan cultural practices and B.C. regulations, if those regulations do not conflict with Tahltan laws and rights.
“Members are required to utilize each species to the extent possible for cultural purposes such as food, clothing, regalia, tools, medicine, and/or ceremony,” the release states.
It says the First Nation will record harvest numbers from Tahltan citizens.
“The Tahltan Nation maintains a deep respect and admiration for all predatory species. However, we must find a more balanced approach,” said Day.
“I hope the province and the public understand the urgency of this issue.”